5/11/2007

The Great Easter Deception

Like in the parable of the fire-maker, the first post-resurrection Christians found the liberating spirit of Jesus wonderful, enlightening, and world changing. However, in time, other Christians, especially some in positions of power, found it frightening. They wanted to restrain and control the Jesus spirit. They were anxious that people would take courage, turn the world upside down, and thus upset the way things are. They were anxious that their power would be reduced.

So what some leaders did was take the metaphorical language about sacrifice [that had been around awhile] and applied it definitively to the Easter stories. They turned Jesus’ death into a once-for-all blood sacrifice to cleanse us of our alleged sin. Instead of the forces of injustice killing Jesus all of us so-called sinners were responsible. His death was de-politicized. If it weren’t for our sin, so the story was re-told, he wouldn’t have had to die.

Jesus was now no longer the confrontational revolutionary prophet but a self-sacrificing lamb. Good Friday was not the Romans killing off a pestilent rebel but the assisted suicide of the forgiving martyr. Easter Sunday was not the days of new hope, determination, and resistance congealing among his followers but a 40-day power display in order to show the benefits of having Jesus forgive us.

Like in the story of the fire-maker, the religious elite believing that the spark of life, hope, and power had to be controlled turned Easter into an apolitical gratitude ritual. The elite wanted the fire-maker’s followers to feel grateful for what the fire-maker had done. The fire-maker had given his life. The fire-maker had given his life for their lives. The fire-maker had come back from the dead to prove it. The followers should always remember this and be grateful. And hopefully they’d forget how to make fire.

The Eucharistic meal, Holy Communion, was also subverted, turning it into a remembrance of Jesus’ forgiving love rather than as a challenge to take up the task of breaking open prison doors. The political status quo is quite happy to tolerate a religion of forgiving love. However a religion that is bent on literally setting captives free is both a problem and a threat.

In the parable of the fire-maker there are two villages with very different perspectives on the world. They have different understandings of fire, religion, and governance. In my experience of the Church there are two rivers. One is a river of life that flows through me, sustaining me, and challenging me to love and to liberate. That river has as one of its sources the resurrected spirit of Jesus. The other river is a river of guilt, cleansed by the blood of Jesus. People are warned that if they don’t drink from this river they will not have life.

Two villages. Two rivers. Two theologies. Our choice.

1 comment:

  1. Dreamer10:22 AM

    Challenged to love and liberate ...... this is brilliantly expressed. Thanks Glynn.

    ReplyDelete