23 April 2011

Easter Meditations

Good Friday Meditation

Note: At Central Christian Church, we do "meditations" on the 7 last statements of Christ on the Cross. I did one this year. This is the most intensely personal stuff I post.

“Father, Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

That’s really the whole point. If you do the top 10 list of the questions of human life, or especially the fears of humanity, that’s number one.

Now what, God? Am I OK? Can I commit my spirit into your hands? Our hearts this night are so saturated with a 2,000 year old sorrow which is still here and now.

Our love for this man Jesus is a deeply personal thing. Through this man, we encounter an ultimate, painful passageway and we are afraid to look. No, what I really mean to say is that I’m afraid to look.

Into your hands, God, can I commit my spirit?

That’s reason this building is here, these bricks and mortar. If we didn’t have to worry about that one, wouldn’t this be a great place for townhomes or a dentist’s office or even a big open field where ageless children would play in an endless summer and never skin their knees?

We are sad tonight. We are sad for this man, the Son of God, whom we love, who experienced agonies for which we literally don’t have words, and then who walked willingly right through the passageway, across the doorstep of Death, committing his essence to his Father, to our Father.

I think tonight about the very end of a rock opera written in my youth, Jesus Christ Superstar. At the very end, the climax, there is a choir of discordant voices and every instrument is screeching and the tenor who plays Jesus cries out “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit!” And at the instant that last syllable is spoken, sounds simply cease in the theater. There’s a sudden, an instantaneous flood of quiet. After a minute of this most profound nothing, a few strings start very softly and very slowly playing the melody from The Garden of Gethsemane.

God thy will is hard
But you hold every card
I will drink your cup of poison
Nail me to your cross and break me
Bleed me beat me kill me take me now -
Before I change my mind

And everyone leaves silently. The rustle of our now ridiculous going-to-the-theater clothing is all that’s left. Maybe we feel a little stupid being humbled by actors, but there you have it, we are.

A rock opera – that’s a place we find Truth? Why not? Jesus was talking to his Father. And was he talking to us? I’m sure not the authority. I hesitate to interpret anything. Every bearded nitwit since Job’s friends has spoken the Truth of God. They have, it says so right there on the label.

Lord ,I want to know the Truth. No, Lord, I NEED to know YOUR truth, straight from you, straight from your son. I know it’s inconvenient. I know it’s pretty selfish to expect Truth from someone right when they are dying, but I need to know.

I tried to avoid all this. I didn’t want your Truth, God, I didn’t need your truth, I could have lived without your truth, and I really preferred not to think about your truth in the bloom of this corporeal life, before my hair turned grey and my joints hurt. But you didn’t let me alone. You threw these ... people ... at me. My wife, my mother, my brother Billy Reid, that pesky Norton, and this effervescent guy Josh, and then you brought me to the people in this place. They treated me with love and accepted me and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s like the problem the Indians had at Plymouth Rock, the immigration laws just aren’t strong enough here.

And you repeated the words of your Son until I listened.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Of course it’s a message. I’m so stupid ever to have doubted that. Lord, you prove to me every night as I sit quietly. I listen to my breathing when I’ve exhaled and I’m not ready to breath in again. And I listen to my heart. As it slows there are little slices of time between beats. And between breaths and heartbeats, I find the quietest time of all. And then there’s this spark, I don’t know where it comes from, you I guess, and I breathe and my heart takes a beat and I’ve passed through a doorway. My spirit has always been committed SOMEWHERE. You kept telling me it was You. I just didn’t listen.

Jesus also said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” In that, and in these last words, “Into YOUR hands, I COMMIT MY SPIRIT,” I think I hear Your message:

“Relax, this is really not such a big deal. Of COURSE I’m committing my spirit, my essence, all that exists of me, to my Father in Heaven. You will too, Roger. I’ve told you: I’ll be back, and I’ll take you there myself.”

Problem for the Morning

I picture tonight some centurion hitting the sack thinking, wow, what a weekend, these nutsy Jews! At least tomorrow, it'll be back to normal. And I picture someone waking him early in the morning: Boss? Boss!? We have a problem . . .


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