Saturday, April 23, 2011

More on the Powerlessness of Jesus

Arrested and brutally interrogated by the secular and religious leaders in Jerusalem, about to be pushed off the precipice into the abyss of crucifixion, Jesus knows he is one with the true creator and ruler of the whole congeries of elements of which the abyss is perversely made by all pretenders to the ruler's power; and then he lets himself be pushed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Powerlessness of Jesus

Reading closely the accounts of the arrest, suffering, and death of Jesus in the gospels, one can only be struck by the utter powerlessness of Jesus in the face of the forces against him. If this was -- is -- God's method to overcome evil and recreate the world in truth, beauty, and goodness, it is astonishing, stunning. Give self up completely. Give up every claim to privilege, right, power. To love, only to love, utterly and absolutely to and through the end, no matter the end.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Non Sequitur in Holy Week

In the gospel reading for Tuesday in Holy Week -- John 12:20-26 -- some Greeks attending Passover in Jerusalem approach Philip, a disciple of Jesus: "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip goes to Andrew, and together they go to Jesus with this request. Does Jesus agree to meet these Greeks? Or does he put them off with a claim to being too busy, here in this tumultuous week? Neither. Jesus responds to Philip and Andrew with what appears to be a strange non sequitur. He begins to talk about the Son of Man, about a climactic moment approaching the Son of Man, about the need for a grain to die in the ground before it can produce a bounty of wheat. Does Jesus misunderstand Philip and Andrew and the eager Greeks? Does he not care about these Greeks and their request as he seemingly launches into these oblique references to himself and his sense of mission? Is his response a non sequitur? The answer is no and yes.

The answer is no in the sense that Jesus -- in his commentary on the Son of Man, on death, on losing one's life for the sake of Jesus, and only thus and then gaining true life -- precisely answers the Greeks, precisely tells them what it means to see Jesus. Do they wish to see Jesus? Do we wish to see Jesus? Look to the cross. There he is, loving God and loving the world, in and through suffering and death, for the sake of the world. This is where we see him, or we do not see him at all.

The answer is yes in that Jesus on the cross does not portray or embody the wisdom of the world. Jesus crucified is, in worldly terms, a non sequitur, a cipher of utter foolishness and failure. Moreover, to see Jesus truly is to be where Jesus is, in suffering love, not in self-focused pursuit of achievement, satisfaction, and fulfillment, the way of the world. In Holy Week, crossing off the days to the climactic end of the week, we follow the non sequitur of our crucified savior and lord, or we do not follow him at all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eastern Redbuds

Mid April, and long down the lane the eastern redbuds in bloom, prior to leafing, mist the gray dawn in purple understory.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Kind of Wild Beauty

On an early morning drive to the Blue Ridge today, I stopped near Paris, Virginia. Clouds thickened down the ridges and valley, and a chill easterly wind drove hard rain across the land and pond, the surface of the pond being pushed relentlessly to the western edge. Such a wildness to the weather and morning -- all a kind of wild beauty amid the unfurling and flourishing of spring.