Friday, April 6, 2012

Musings on Good Friday...

I was all out of sorts this morning, which was more than a little disturbing.  It was not because my wife and older daughter were heading to Chicago for a girls getaway – I will miss them – but I’m going to have a lot of fun hanging out with just my younger daughter.  It was because I didn’t have to go to work.  Although Good Friday is not all that widespread a holiday in the USA (which seems an odd if not ironic contrast to my upbringing in much more unchurched Australia), this year, we were graciously given the day off.  Have I become that dependent on work?  Am I a workaholic?  Scary stuff…

Anyway, I got over that quick enough and have been pottering around the house taking care of this and that.  This post is an expansion of some of the quotes I have favorited away on Facebook/Twitter from various friends.  I posted them on my Facebook page and re-tweeted them as a #gf rather than #ff as I mused on what Good Friday is all about.  In this post, along with the quote, I may – or may not depending on my mood, explain why the quote meant something to me.

Personally, I don't have the guts to follow Jesus, so I often settle for being a Christian.
unknown, via Brandon Mouser
So if you saw my original list on Facebook it is obvious I am reordering it.  There is probably no particular significance to the order in either – it just appeals to my sense of chaos.  Brandon is a neat young man introduced to me through the roots that have me writing under the Monica “Ruined for Life”.  He is the son-in-law of an amazing couple, Ron and Nancy Thaxton who have loved, challenged, cared and pastored my wife and I since the early days of our marriage nearly 20 years ago in West Virginia.  I’m pretty sure Brandon said this, but claimed to be quoting an unknown source.  It sounds like he would have something the guts to say though so that fact it resonated with him is not surprising.  I suspect for many of us willing to be honest about our faith, this could resonate equally strongly.  Today of all days, I am reminded of the gap between the Jesus who is, and the person I am.  That is why I am leading with this quote.

Love is not a victory march. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
Leonard Cohen ( via Jodi-Renee Adams)
Have always loved this song – and I am simply unable to express why there is something in this statement that resonates so strongly in me with Good Friday.  So what I will say is that I think one of my favorite renditions of it was KD Lang at the 2010 winter Olympics opening ceremony in Vancouver.  I suspect I would enjoy hearing Jodi sing is also.

God doesn't love you because God loves everyone. God loves you because God loves you.
Khad Young
God doesn't want something from us. He simply wants us.” - CS Lewis
There was never a time when God was not in love.
Brennan Manning (via Mary Kathryn Tyson)
No matter what ANYONE says; you are worthy! God loves you. No matter how shitty we've been.
Jon Hedgecorth
God is closer than we are to ourselves: nothing is more intimate than God's love.
Henri Nouwen
God is not in love with a future version of us... He loves us right where we are today.
Billy Lloyd
I would not want you to think from my earlier comment on the gap between the Jesus who is, and the person I am that I am I see myself as some hopeless wretch.  I would also not want you to think I think more highly of myself than I ought.  But this to me is central to the events we mark this day.  I hear often that “God loves us more than we could ever deserve”.  I get the point, but I’m not sure it’s great theology.
In a recent discussion sparked by Frank Paul Green, adjunct faculty at George Fox Seminary, Franks opening discussion on this notion included the point that
"God so loved the world" is the greatest statement concerning value, significance and worthiness. To suggest otherwise would be an oxymoron ... a self-contradiction.
My response to this is that I think at its narrowest, I had to ask myself this - if I do not deserve God's love, then how do my children deserve mine?  The later question is of course preposterous - and recognizing that the world is imperfect and sadly, even tragically for some, this idea that I do not deserve my parents love has been a cruel reality, I think for many, perhaps most, the idea framed in this way would suggest what I deserve has nothing to do with whether OR how much God loves me.
I’m not a theologian so all of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but to extend the argument further, if God loves me more than I deserve, how is that just.  If God is not just, is he God at all?  Pretty soon we are getting into the really murky waters that even trained theologians fear to tread.  And so to my next quote…

Every time theologians tell us what God can and cannot do, is or is not, they create an idol – an impression of an aspect of God that they can understand because it has limits. But God has no such limits.
Neil Christopher
and related to this…
"Never think you need to protect God. Anytime you think you need to protect God, you can be sure that you are worshiping an idol." - Hauerwas
Simply this – I have no idea why Jesus did what he did?  It seems like the most extravagant gesture.  Was it really because he loved me; the singular me; that much, in spite of the presumption that I don’t deserve it?  I really don’t know.  But I will say this.  I really don’t believe the central purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to die for our collective or my personal sin.  He came to restore relationship with all of us – all with no exceptions – because of this unfathomable (and if it must be so to you, undeserved) love.  The cross was how he achieved this purpose – not the point or the purpose itself. 

Love doesn't need to win because it is not competing with hate. It already won at Calvary. We are here to simply let the world know that.
Jeremy Ritch
God does have a way of combating evil. It’s not punishment and it’s not retaliation, fear or anger. It’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is God’s way of combating evil.
Nadia Bolz-Weber
WOW!  Just let these soak in –let them stir your soul and you figure it out. 

I didn’t go to religion to be happy. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I don’t recommend Christianity.
CS Lewis
Kinda over Christianity but I love Jesus.
Rebecca Bec Cranford-Smith
You think there was any way to order these quotes!?!  In truth, they are an incredibly interwoven mass of ideas in my mind, and that’s just fine with me.  Sorry if none of this makes any sense to you – but I’m guessing if it was too crazy, you wouldn’t still be reading…  Doubling back then simply to say that these have close ties to my opening gambit; that I don't have the guts to follow Jesus, so I often settle for being a Christian.  Carry on…
(Oh – and I may be the first person to quote Bec as “Cranford-Smith” – congrats Bec J )

Life is short and fragile. Love wastefully.” - Crystal Lewis
How much simpler could you emulate Good Friday than this…

What if when Jesus said, "do good to those that oppose you & spitefully abuse you" he meant... do good to those that oppose you & abuse you?
John Jensen
An object lesson – we say stuff like this, but we do the opposite.  Our own misplaced sense of our rights has us constantly at odds with people with whom we disagree, who disagree with us, or whom we just plain cannot stand.  Jesus spoke of a different way, and his actions on this day showed he meant it.  Sometimes it’s so much easier to settle for being a Christian…

Soon we must all face the choice between doing what is right and what is easy.
Albous Dumbledour / JK Rowling
When I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (something I have only done in whole once), I was struck whether intentionally by the moviemakers take on things or not during the carrying of the cross that as much as Jesus may have been tempted in his 40 day sojourn at the beginning of his ministry, perhaps it paled compared to the temptation he must have felt at this point.  Got nothing to back it up – just a thought…

“God's care for humanity was so great that he sent his unique Son among us, so that those who count on him might not lead a futile and failing existence, but have the undying life of God Himself.”
John 3:16 Dallas Willard translation
Thank you!

And now someone else words in song
Beautiful Scandalous Night