Sunday, March 21, 2010

Church During Lent

If you take your Christianity seriously, and study about it, and about Jesus Christ, and the church you attend does likewise, then the Lent period is a serious period. It does not make for what I have come to call "rah rah church". It moves at a slower pace, demands a different rubric, and should cause a bit more meditative response. While the Easter season ends in the victory of resurrection, the way there is more sorrowful. Tonight at the church I attend, the sermon concentrated on the punishment Jesus took before He was actually placed on the cross for execution. He was mocked and made fun of. He was disrobed, whipped and battered, and then dressed again. He was spit on--ask anyone in health care or police work how icky and nasty this is.

It's hard to explain, something of a mystery, as to how the suffering and death of Jesus redeems humankind. It's first hard to understand why this gentle man was tortured in this way. But in each person who tormented Jesus stands for you and me. The mocking and teasing? How about that nasty office gossip you passed on. The beating and physical abuse? How about when you became so angry as to threaten someone physically--or actually struck someone. We are all represented by the mob of Roman soldiers, Jewish clergy, Roman and Jewish citizens present in the various settings of Jesus' prosecution and death.

Somehow, through the grace of God, this gory death redeems fallen and sinful humanity. Whether you think of it as Christ taking our punishment, or His suffering being so awful that we look at it and vow to be like Him instead of like that ugliness, or any of a thousand other theories that attempt to describe the theology behind redemption and salvation, to borrow the last words Jesus said on the cross, it is finished, the curtain of separation between God and humanity has been torn in half from the top and we can come in a spirit of humility and sorrow and have a true relationship with the Creator.

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