Easter

Somewhere along the way, we decided that the individual is the most important thing to focus on.

Lots can be said about why this is.  And lots can be said about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.   I am not going to repeat those things here.

Not coincidentally, contemporary Christianity is awfully focused on the individual, too.  I don’t think a Jesus-focused spirituality would neglect or ignore the individual.  Jesus certainly valued individuals uniquely.   Our mordern idolization of the individual though?  It has played a hand in some pretty significant distortions.

For me, this comes into focus around the question of Easter:  What does it mean that Jesus died and then was born again?

We spend all this energy on that question.  And we should.  The answer to that question is really what we should mean when we discuss the gospel (good news.)

The easy, modern, distorted answer goes something like this:  The fact that Jesus died and then was born again means that when I die, I will be born again.  If you have grabbed onto the right understanding, beliefs, and faith comitments, then you will get to join me.

Don’t get me wrong.   It’s an amazing thing that death is not the end of us.   But God does better.

There is nothing new in the ways we knuckleheaded people underestimate God.   Eve and Adam underestimated God in the garden of Eden.  They thought that the snake could better divine what was in their best interests than God could.

Roman-occupied Israelis, at the time of Jesus birth underestimated God, too.  Many of the people at Jesus’ time thought that the best the messiah might achieve would be a political kind-of liberation.

And today?  Today we expect God’s returning kingdom won’t accomplish much more than a Peter-Pan bus, conveying us to some distant destination, a sort-of eternal Disney Land off somewhere far away.

Over and over, we are promised something more.  Jesus death and rebirth doesn’t only signify that we get a new life after this one.  It signifies that the whole creation will be reborn; the whole order of things will be restored and redeemed.

That?  That’s a pretty cool thing.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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