Monday, March 25, 2013


   Some people who question our faith sometimes ask, "What kind of a monstrous Father is God for sending his Son to earth to be crucified to avenge God's anger at sinners?"

   This question is misguided.  From all eternity, God intended to create the universe and send Jesus into the world.  God knew that the space/time universe would be incomplete. Only God is complete.

   The universe itself was created in a "big bang." Earth was created from a star that exploded.  The evolution of the earth is a sometimes violent journey from chaos to cosmos, from upheavals and disorder to order.  

   From the beginning, long before humans arrived on earth, microbes died; then fish, plants and animals died.  Living beings learned to eat other living beings in order to grow and thrive.    Animals suffered, whether through sickness, accidents, fire, earthquakes or floods, or by being killed by other animals.  Long before sin entered the world, natural disasters, suffering and death were a natural part of creative life on earth.  This was the natural way to completeness through evolution that produced beings of a higher order.

   Now for us, to live fully is to accept life in all its evolving possibilities, which includes accepting natural suffering and death.  (We are not masochists, e.g., we seek medical help for our illnesses and we reject the sinful suffering of hatred and war.)

   When we die, we are not annihilated.  We leave behind the memory of ourselves, with all our learning and accomplishments, even all our suffering, and we make room for others.  Scientists call this memory, "Information."  This information is used by later humans to help move our culture forward and evolve.  Think, for example, of what today's medical students learn in four years, compared to what medical students learned in four years 100 or 50 years ago.  How easy is it to build a computer today compared to building one 30 years ago?

   When Jesus came to live among us and share our lives, he came to live deeply and fully.  He freely accepted natural joys, e.g., the joy of his friendships; natural suffering, e.g., his sorrow when his friend, Lazarus, died; and death itself.    

   Jesus showed us the way to live freely, deeply and fully.  This way is to live the truth in love.  So powerfully did Jesus live the truth in love , especially in caring for the poor, sick, oppressed and vulnerable, that people either had to fully accept him or fully reject him.  There is no half way.  To be a Christian--to be a living expression of Christ--is to commit ourselves freely, deeply and fully to living the truth in love, and even suffering and dying for truth and love.  With Jesus there is no in-between.  Nobody can be part-Christian.

   Tragically, sin exacerbated and exacerbates our incompleteness.  Sin is the mortal enemy of truth and love.  When it met Jesus, it killed him.  If sin were not present in the world, Jesus could have lived a long life and died peacefully.  And he still would have elevated our lives to a new plane and opened the way to our total completeness, beginning here in space/time and reaching fulfillment in eternity.  But because of sin, he died a horrific death on the cross.  Because of sin, he also had to save us.  Our brother had to become our Savior.  This was not any monstrous revenge ordered by his Father; it was a sad necessity courageously accepted by the all-loving, completely self-giving Jesus.

   On Good Friday, we kneel humbly before our crucified Savior, sadly repentant for making his horrible suffering and death necessary.  On Easter Sunday, we rejoice and celebrate his resurrection to a new level of life, and on Pentecost we share in this new level of life ourselves. 

   Our Happy Easter comes when we thankfully and praisefully take advantage of the new level of life that Jesus has raised us to, and in the power of his grace, we work to move creation forward as discerning and prophetic expressions of him in and for today's world.

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