Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. It's a temptation every year to be cynical and to refrain from the celebration of Jesus entering into Jerusalem, because we know what that celebration turns into just a few days later. The party hats get put away and we return to the things that entertain us back into our hypnotic states where people don't die and pain doesn't occur. There were tons there on Sunday, a few on Thursday, but by Friday just a small group of women and John.

We are there for the entrance, leave for the cross, and return on Easter to find the pews full.

Oh, there are those who talk about "the blood" and propitiation and substitution a lot. They have systematized the crucifixion into a proposition that is basically the entry requirement to be in their club. "Are you under the blood?"

Yet there are others, and I fear I fall into this category more often than not, that just ignore what happened That Friday. Palm Sunday and Easter have the goodies we all seek, so we live life to the fullest on those days and on Friday hope for at least a somewhat interesting news story on 20/20.

On the front page of the Waco Tribune Herald this morning was the picture of a man traveling across the country with a cross. His cross I assume-- the one he is carrying. At the base of the cross were wheels because, of course Jesus was only being literal with the "Cross" part of the command. "Carry" is open to interpretation. Connected to the Cross-On-Wheels was a little red wagon. A Radio Flyer, I assume. In the wagon sits the man's possessions and riding on top of it is a tiny dog named Lexus From Texas.

My first instinct, like when I heard about a Truett student doing a similar thing, was to laugh and make insinuations and implications at how less intellectual these people are than me, and how I understand the "Jesus Story" much better than these. Yet I ponder this and I come to the conclusion that I wheel my cross around with twice the ease, and therefore half the conviction, as these Cross-Bearers.

None of us understand the cross and this is possibly the most beautiful thing about the cross. The cross is the great equalizer of human history. For those who choose to remain through Friday, and for those of us who retreat, the cross diminishes the proud and exalts the lowly, not to where one becomes higher than the other, but where they are all at equal footing.

Those who are proud of their moral achievements or their commitment to social justice are left standing out in the cold in front of the cross.

Those who are lowly and marginalized receive solidarity with the Almighty because of the cross, but even their lowliness looks like the proud garments of royalty next to His pain. Even the martyr (and there are many aspiring to this job these days) should be not proud because when it comes to death, we all have it coming to us. He didn't and took it anyway.

I'll wake up in the morning and I'll whisper Hosanna. Save. Save me from pride and save me from my condition. Deliver me to you. Even if my deliverance sends me directly to Friday, Deliver Me.


Myles said...

wow. good words. thanks for this.

Katy said...

I really like reading your writing, friend. I like how since I've been at UBC, I have encountered so many people who have such a unique gift...that of making me see things differently...which is a big deal because I always selfishly believe that I see things in some special, righteously indignant way. Reading things like this puts me in my place. So thanks.

Aaron said...

"Oh, there are those who talk about 'the blood' and propitiation and substitution a lot. They have systematized the crucifixion into a proposition that is basically the entry requirement to be in their club. 'Are you under the blood?'"

Two observations on this:

(1) Why is it bad to try to understand the theological meaning of the crucifixion? Propitiation and substitution are clearly biblical concepts that need to be thought through and explained, and to avoid them is to gut the cross of its meaning. The naked event means nothing unless it is interpreted. Why criticize people like me who give rigorous attention to what the Bible says about the meaning of the cross? Systematization is not a bad thing. Everybody does it all the time intuitively. Every time you allow the law of noncontradiction to operate in your theological understanding, you are systematizing to some degree.

(2) Is it not true that belief in the death of Jesus (which includes some measure of theological understanding of the event) is, in fact, an entry requirement into the church?

Take out that paragraph, and your essay will be perfection. Seriously, good words.

jenA said...

i might just be stupid, but I thought the resurrection was the linchpin of the christian church. most anyone who believes in mortality believes in the death of a man named jesus.