Written by: Rev Edwin Arrison
Final Meditation on Lent 2019
The magnet of self-righteousness and self-justification is stronger than the magnet of self-emptying.
Christians are “pulled” by several magnets, or St Paul would say, we are being tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. (Eph 4:14 NIV).
If this is true, it means that we must discern very carefully what is before us and make some very conscious primary decisions, not simply on the basis of self-interest but on the basis of truth and love. If we do not stand for anything, we can fall for everything. If we stand only for self-interest, our choices will always be determined by that.
It definitely means that we will have to move outside of our comfort zones, and especially those things that we are not naturally drawn to, such as self-emptying and dying to self. No-one will just easily choose the path of self-emptying and Jesus also grappled with this, asking for the cup to be taken away from him. Nevertheless, he said, not my will but your will be done. As a young person of the 1980s, I know that God’s burden is light, because ultimately it is not a hard decision to choose for justice but one is inexorably drawn into that by God’s spirit (God chooses it for you!), which ultimately means a loss of the fear of death.
Your will be done: We say these words so easily in the prayer known as the “Our Father”. Do we even know what it is that we are praying? God’s will was that Moses should go and speak to Pharoah and that Daniel should be thrown to the lions. It is the way of courage and confronting our deepest fears and the deepest fears of those close to us. God’s will is never an easy path but it is always the way of victory, a victory that sometimes does not look like a victory but always can be summed up with the words “It is finished, it is accomplished”.
We can ask God: Why Lord, do you make life difficult for those of us who want to follow you? Most of the first apostles were also crucified. Why could you not work out something where your physical death and people’s hatred of you be the “final act” and the rest of us did not have to experience that as well?
Why is life a constant parable of life and death, of crucifixion and resurrection? Sure, joy comes in the morning but why could it not come in the evening already? Is it really your will that millions of people have to die because of the greed of weapons manufacturers, for example? Or is it just that these things are happening because we, your followers today, have not made clear choices to be on the side of the oppressed and therefore have not been drawn into your realm of justice?
The Jesus who came into Jerusalem on a donkey in a multi-dimensional act of non-violence and passive resistance and deep love calls us to that same via Dolorosa today. The only hope we have is a completely new life, a new way of being, to be experienced in our life-time on earth (in embryo) and to be experienced afterwards in all its fulness. To seek a cheap hope and a cheap resurrection is not the way of the Christ, but once we enter our Good Fridays, we do so with a permanent and pre-existing joy that is with us always, both in the evening and in the morning!. And yes, if we do not speak up for life and against death and stand with the oppressed, Jesus will do the impossible and even raise the stones to speak up. Either way, God’s will will be done…