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Good Friday—April 6, 2012

Good Friday—April 6, 2012

 From “May He Not Rest in Peace,” by Barbara Brown Taylor

 “…It is an old, old, story. Love comes into the world like a little child, fresh from God. When love grows up, love feeds people, love heals people, love turns things upside down. This does not sit well with the people in charge. They warn love to leave well enough alone. Love meets hate, meets politics, meets fear. Love goes on loving, which gets love killed—not by villains in black hats, but by people like us: clergy, patriots, God-fearing folk. What brought them together was their rage at him, for being less than they wanted him to be—or for being more than they wanted him to be—but, in any case, for not being who they wanted him to be, and they killed him for it.”

“He was a good man. Perhaps that is the first thing to say about him. He resisted the temptation to be more than a man, although it was clearly within his power to do so. On the whole, he limited himself to what anyone made out of flesh and blood could do, obeying the laws of gravity and mortality just like the rest of us so we could not discount our kinship with him, He did not come to put us to shame with his divinity. He came to call us into the fullness of our humanity, which was divine enough for him.”

Then she talks about leaders of world religions who lived to ripe old age—Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed. And she continues, “Jesus was not so lucky. But if he had been luckier, what would he have had  to offer all those others who died too soon—abandoned—who suffer for things they did not do, who are punished for the capital offense of loving too much, without proper respect for the authorities? His hard luck makes him our best company when we run into our own. He knows, He has been there. There is nothing that hurts us that he does not know about. On the whole, his love was not the sweet kind. It may have been sweet when he was holding a child in his arms or washing his friends’ feet. But more often it was the fierce kind of love he was known for—love that would not put up with any kind of tyranny, that would not stand by and watch a leper shunned or a widow go hungry—love that turned over tables and cracked homemade whips before it would allow God to be made into one more commodity.”

 “What else? He was a king, whether Pilate could get him to say it or not, only his kingdom was not of this world. It broke into this world from time to time—it still does—and this world could use a whole lot more of it, but we are also afraid of it. Our world is built on knowing who is up and who is down, who is in and who is out, who is last and who is first. His world turns all that upside down, and we simply cannot function like that. So we run this world our way and we make noises about wanting to do it his way. But we do not really mean it or we would.”

“There is this one thing that keeps getting in our way—this fear thing, this greed thing, this broken me-me-me thing. It is not all there is to us, but it is strong stuff, and yet according to him, it is finished. It has no more dominion over us because his death killed it once and for all. You figure it out, We have been set free. His death saved us, and while no one can explain that any better than anyone can explain how he was all human and all God, it would be a terrible thing to deny. It would be like pounding in more nails. Into him. Into us.”

“Besides, the point is not what sense we can make of the cross but what sense the cross makes of us. We have everything to do with his death. He has everything to do with our life. God help us, Good Friday is the day for pondering these things, while Easter is still a rumor. If we are not shocked by his killing, let us at least be silenced by it. By what we have done, by what he has done, while there is still time.”

 “May he not rest in peace. May he stay busy with us, who are in grievous need of him.    Amen.”

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