Christian’s believe this is the week that changed, is changing,will change the world, the universe, the cosmos.
Jesus comes into Jerusalem riding a donkey and by the end of the week he has been executed. He has been executed even though he has done nothing wrong. He has been executed even though he has done everything right.
It’s a strange week to reflect on because it really doesn’t compute with the ways of the world. Or at least that’s the way it seems to me. Just look at those pictures of people like David Cameron or Ed Milliband on the election campaign.
How Jesus does his business is the polar opposite to how the world does it business. Sometimes it seems to be the opposite to how the church does its business as well. (I’m almost expecting The Christian Institute to make an appearance in the narrative this week as Jesus is questioned by those in authority, Pilate etc.)
How does this week, Holy Week bring good news to the unemployed, the addicted, the poor, the person who seems to have it all together? How does Jesus on the cross bring good news to people struggling with loneliness, despair, depression?
How does it all fit in with life in 21st century Ireland? If you’re convinced that Jesus changed the world by laying aside his rights and self sacrificial giving, by acting humbly and non violently how do survive in society?
The prayer that Jesus prayed this week that his disciples should be one has been bothering me as well because it seems like Jesus’ prayers aren’t being answered. I don’t feel at one with lots of his disciples. How can I be at one with churches I don’t like? Can I be at one with the Catholic church? Or can I be at one with the branch of the family I’m most familiar with? If evangelicals are seen by the world (unfairly) as a certain way or hold on to beliefs that I don’t agree with how do I be at one with them? If people from Evangelical Alliance seem to be saying that we should stand behind a bakery that doesn’t ice a cake and you don’t feel you should does that mean you’re not an evangelical?
There are lots of things that cause me distress in the world and wonder if Christianity is true.
But sometimes wondering how Christians are so fragmented is the thing that makes me wonder most. How can we all claim to follow Jesus, to be brothers and sisters and yet act like strangers for most of the time?
And of course I’m part of the problem because I don’t necessarily want to associate with certain churches. If they’re fundamentalist protesting football on a Sunday no thanks. If they’re going on about how Christianity is cool I’m not there either. How does this stuff work?
Today has been a strange day.
It’s the day when Christians gather to celebrate the rising and victory of Jesus over the grave, a day for celebration if ever there is a day to celebrate for a Christian.
Yet to put it simply, life still feels shit, the same as it did a few days before, in fact much blacker and horrible than I’ve had in a while. It’s a day of lead feet and an awareness of how ‘off target’ I’ve been with so much of my life, of confusing strength with being proud, of feeling let down by God while being very aware that I’m a let down as well.
In other words, I’m feeling crap and anything like celebrating despite it being Easter Sunday.
It’s hard. But you probably don’t me to tell you that as you’ll know that yourself, life is hard. This was going to turn into another post about struggles and wrestling but I briefly looked up from the computer and could see the tail of the rainbow out the study window. Some may put that down as a coincidence, but not me.
It happens on occasions that God whispers to me through creation, rainbows from windows and buzzards at the exact time I would need to see a buzzard, creepy crows and blackbird nests in the garden.
So yes, life is hard and I don’t feel like celebrating much, I often can’t see how the resurrection is going to help me find a job this week, or be a better husband, or why church is like grinding teeth sometimes or why the good news doesn’t seem very much like good news but today I’ll cling to the rainbow out the window, because it’s a whisper in the dark of something bigger, or perhaps it’s creation celebrating it’s future redemption and restoration and telling me it’s all going to be alright.
The Plough is above the house tonight,
the most persistant ? hanging high in the night sky.
The question mark just hangs there prodding and poking me with doubts.
Is there nothing but a cold, dark expanse that we live into and try to make the best of and struggle through
or is there more to it,
is there really a maker and creator,
a redeemer and some big story that creation lives into and for?
Then I come back in because I feel scared.
I feel small and alone in the cosmos and if there is no God and no redemption, if we’re just randomly assembled chemical reactions then despair descends into my body and hangs me low.
Some claim that thought spurs them to make the most of every minute and find comfort in the dark matter, but it scares the shit out of me. When I became a Christian as a teenager it felt like I came because I was scared of going to hell. Now at the age of 34 it sometimes feels like I’m a Christian because I’m scared shitless of what it means if there is no God.
And even though those stars in The Plough are light years away in a cold cosmos they seem closer and more real than God, Jesus or The Holy Spirit are presently. They stars of The Plough might be distance but they seem real and weighty whereas God seems like ether and mist that floats around the head.
Except I know that when tragedy strikes I’ll be crying out to God for help because I need to believe in miracles and hope, that there is more to life than death and chaos, that pain has meaning and that I won’t always feel so broken and hopeless.
So this night is a lonely night, but if ever there is a night to be lonely and doubt, to feel scared and alone it is tonight.
Tearing pictures out of an old Vincent van Gogh diary I noticed The Plough in one night scene and it made me feel not alone, there an understanding that we looked into the same night sky and saw the same thing.
And now that I think about it,with the full moon beaming through the living room window did Jesus look up at The Plough in Gethsemane, lonely in a way that is beyond understanding but at the same time in way we can understand?
For although I often have my frustrations and doubts, although I can’t make sense of great Biblical truths that theologians can make sense of I can make sense of a man lonely and doubting, alone and afraid and feeling let down by his friends. And the truth(which I believe) that this man is also God just about keeps me hanging in there despite the doubts and lack of faith.