Lonely

One of the more interesting sections in all of Scripture is some of Jesus’ final words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  Peter Rollins describes this as divine abandonment - the moment when God abandons God.  As I have reread many of the Easter passages this week.  I am struck by how lonely Jesus must have been during his final week. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, people greeted him like a conquering king.  Jesus knew he had come to die and within a week some of these same people would be shouting “crucify him.”  In the upper room, Jesus’ disciples thought they were enjoying another Passover meal together.  Jesus was sharing some final moments with his closest friends who didn’t have a clue.  What emotions was Jesus experiencing as he sat around the table?  What was he thinking as he washed the disciples’ feet?  In the garden Jesus asks his friends to pray with him and these friends choose sleep instead.  During Jesus’ trial his best friend denies him three times.

Loneliness has to be one of the most painful of all human experiences.  I am an extreme introvert. I am good at being alone, but being alone is different than loneliness and loneliness is not fun.   Henri Nouwen describes it like the Grand Canyon - a deep incision in the surface of our existence.

Why is the call to Christian leadership and ministry also a call to loneliness?  This is the irony of ministry - we call people to community, mutuality and interdependence but find ourselves on the outside looking in.

In a strange sort of way it is the loneliness of ministry that opens up a space for community, support and unconditional love.  It is in our loneliness that we become most aware of our need for each other.  This dependence on each other is what builds the family of God.

A new reality

What does it mean to be a Christian in North America?  If I listen to my Republican brothers and sisters it has something to do with electing a President who can fight for “our” values.  When I visit with the more progressive, socially active believers it quite often involves protesting or advocating for something. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus thinks about all of this.  If Jesus and the disciples were walking the earth today, who would they vote for?  Would they defend the right of the unborn and choose the most conservative candidate or would they side with the poor and go with our current president?  Or, more interestingly, would they even be paying attention to the election?

Jesus’ earthly ministry took place during the Roman occupation.  The Israelites were a conquered people living under the rule of political leaders who thought of themselves as gods.  Why didn’t Jesus have more to say about the Romans and their anti-god rule?  When the religious leaders tried to trap Jesus in a political debate, he blows them off by telling them if the government wants it, they can have it.

In his latest book, Insurrection, Peter Rollins makes the following observation: “There is a different way: the way of Resurrection life.  This is a way of living that is able to short-circuit the present social, spiritual or political order, something that we witness at a political level in the life of Mother Teresa, who no more protested against the caste system than she affirmed it.   She simply lived in a different reality.  She lived as though it did not exist…”

Is this how Jesus lived?  Is this what the gospel call is all about?  Living into a new reality?  A reality where differences no longer divide?  Is this what Paul was talking about in Galatians 3:28?  Can you imagine a world where your gender no longer disqualifies you or forces you to do the same work for less pay?

If Paul were writing to us today I imagine he might say, “In Christ we are no longer American or Iranian, Republican or Democrat, for we are all one.”  Living into this kind of actuality just might mean choosing to live as if the reign of God is a present reality; right here, right now.