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Passion, Cross and Resurrection

by Rev. Dr. James D. Findlay

James FindlayReflections with Fellow Sojourners:  Passion, Cross, and Resurrection – Our Own Spiritual Journeys

     Dear Friends in Christ, as I walk with you through the Holy Season of Lent, and see ahead the concentrated sacredness of Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter, and beyond, I am led to consider how these ancient, deeply familiar, and yet ever-fresh narratives shape our lives and the Life of the World, our perceptions and our self-perceptions.

     The details of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection are, on the surface, the tale of a Galilean Jew who enters Jerusalem for Passover, is betrayed by his (male!) friends, executed by the Roman occupiers of Palestine, and then is raised to New Life.  Yet within and beneath this plot are other levels of meaning and power.  Since Passover and Easter are linked to Northern Hemisphere springtime cycles of the sun and moon, not to particular dates on any calendar, there are deep energies of growth and birth, planting and nurturing echoing within our Christian celebrations.  As winter and shorter days fade, longer days appear, and springtime unfolds towards the High Days of Summer.  Linked to these are Jesus’ journeys of healing and teaching, his confrontation with worldly power, an apparent defeat, and a stunningly surprising triumph.  Darkness becomes light and life; loss and pain are overwhelmed by unexpected Divine Love.   Christ’s Life, Death, and Resurrection reflect the Great Natural Cycles of Life and its unconquerable power to be renewed.  Thus, as we celebrate again our own Christian story, we are also in kinship with all peoples and their lives, and the cycles of life on the Earth, which are ancient beyond counting.  From one perspective, Christ’s New Life, and ours, are One with the power of Life Itself.

     Seen another way, the most important suffering, death, and transformation are not those which took place long ago near the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.   For those of us aware of our entire lives as spiritual journeys, the events of Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost and Kingdomtide which follow are not events in the past.  Instead, they are aspects of our own lives.  They happen IN us, not OUTSIDE of us.  Perhaps this is why the narratives of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection have remained so powerful in so many cultures for so many centuries: they touch our own souls, and speak to us of God, and God’s Presence in both pain and transcendence.  Though much theological interpretation has been offered of these events and their meaning, the stories themselves are the most eloquent testimony to their value.  We see ourselves in the Passion, and our own suffering and growth is linked to the struggles and pain of others, and the Presence of the Divine in all of it – even the loss of abandonment, when Jesus calls out in lonely desperation: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk. 15:34; Mt. 27:46).  In the face of life’s sometimes unanswerable questions, when our own moments of loss or loneliness are achingly real, we are blessed by knowing that God’s Son, too, felt deep loss – and God’s Story is again our own.

     Though the triumphalist mainstream of US culture now seeks to avoid the pain of Good Friday, and live only for the symbols of a shallow Easter-only joy, for faithful people, Cross and Resurrection MUST occur together.  None has meaning without the other.  And both Jesus and Paul, who shaped the New Testament Scriptures we know, exemplify this.  Jesus of Nazareth, in constant communication with God through prayer and service, enacted God’s Presence in his ministry of healing, teaching, and the shared fellowship of a Blessed Community without ethnic barriers.  Because of this Divinely Human journey, he was attacked by the religious and political powers, and yet could not be defeated, even in death.  Paul, though he never knew the earthly Jesus, communed with him as the Christ.  Paul’s transformation from persecutor of the Church to preacher of the Gospel was the fruit of his spiritual life: he experienced Christ’s suffering and death as the destruction and transformation of a grasping ego, and knew the resurrection of Christ as the power to live a life of love.  Thus, just as for Jesus and Paul, so it is for us: suffering, death, and resurrection were not, and are not, external events.  To make progress on our own spiritual journeys, we too must die and rise, pray and practice love, let go and be transformed.

     May all of our lives continue to be blessed by the God who moves through creation, ancient texts, and enduring truths.  May the Spirit move through all our experiences, and guide us as we pick up our own Crosses, follow Jesus, live in Divine Love, and find the peace and joy of the faith which knows both Cross and Easter Crown.

Note from author: Please feel free to post here at the Conference website, or contact me via e-mail at sleight_of_time@yahoo.com. I wish to engender a conversation among us about how the Word and Spirit are active in our lives, and how we might nurture these gifts further. I also am happy to work with groups and individuals on how to nurture the Word and Spirit among us. Please visit my Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Spiritual-Accompaniment-Services/219750211459838 as another way of being in this sacred conversation. I look forward to hearing from many of you soon!

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