Easter

Easter eggs

In my Bible, up to about chapter twenty-six of Matthew, there’s a lot of underlining and many brackets and hearts and crosses and sticky notes in the margins. But from chapter twenty-six till the end the pages are bare, like they’ve been struck dumb by the words on them. Here is no pithy wisdom to highlight. Here are no neat parables to break into smaller pieces, intending to chew at them throughout the day. These last few chapters are the brutal, beautiful climax in a story that was eternity in the making.

And it’s a love story.

Have a blessed Easter,

Liana xx

Advertisements

Out of this world

The Devil only has power in this world.

Never forget that.

He can’t stop God from loving you.

And when this world ends…

You go home.

And he’s left, out in the cold.

– – – – –

So don’t be afraid.

He will tempt you, trip you up and try to drag you down to Hell.

Tell him to be gone.

He’s from this world.

You are not.

– – – – –

“In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16.33)

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15.19)

 

Christianity: madness

The cover of Newsweek caught my eye. Pretty hard not to. Hipster Jesus — some didn’t like it. But like the New Statesman cover, it grabbed my attention because it takes Jesus out of Palestine circa 2000 years ago, and puts Him right smack in 2012. Christianity as a religion is in decline because people are mistaking the church for Jesus, Who is ominously missing from His own Body. But there is more to religion than the church, with all its victories and failings. There’s Jesus.

While I don’t agree with everything Andrew Sullivan says, I did like this:

To reduce one’s life to essentials, to ask merely for daily bread, forgiveness of others, and denial of self is, in many ways, a form of madness. It is also a form of liberation.

Also this, which connects to my previous post:

There are times when great injustices—slavery, imperialism, totalitarianism, segregation—require spiritual mobilization and public witness. But from Gandhi to King, the greatest examples of these movements renounce power as well. They embrace nonviolence as a moral example, and that paradox changes the world more than politics or violence ever can or will.

And this:

I have no concrete idea how Christianity will wrestle free of its current crisis, of its distractions and temptations, and above all its enmeshment with the things of this world. But I do know it won’t happen by even more furious denunciations of others, by focusing on politics rather than prayer, by concerning ourselves with the sex lives and heretical thoughts of others rather than with the constant struggle to liberate ourselves from what keeps us from God. What Jefferson saw in Jesus of Nazareth was utterly compatible with reason and with the future; what Saint Francis trusted in was the simple, terrifying love of God for Creation itself. That never ends.

This Christianity comes not from the head or the gut, but from the soul. It is as meek as it is quietly liberating. It does not seize the moment; it lets it be. It doesn’t seek worldly recognition, or success, and it flees from power and wealth. It is the religion of unachievement. And it is not afraid. In the anxious, crammed lives of our modern twittering souls, in the materialist obsessions we cling to for security in recession, in a world where sectarian extremism threatens to unleash mass destruction, this sheer Christianity, seeking truth without the expectation of resolution, simply living each day doing what we can to fulfill God’s will, is more vital than ever. It may, in fact, be the only spiritual transformation that can in the end transcend the nagging emptiness of our late-capitalist lives, or the cult of distracting contemporaneity, or the threat of apocalyptic war where Jesus once walked. (Emphasis mine.)

I’m not saying we should abandon the church, but we shouldn’t follow it instead of Jesus.

“…anyone who holds onto his life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” (John 12:25)

Blessed, recklessly loving Easter, everybody :)

A vow of non-violence

And we thought John was weird.

I came across this while reading up about St Francis of Assisi. Usually when we think about vows we think silence, monks, stone buildings (or at least I do). But we don’t need to be cloistered to take a vow. Vows like the one below are probably more valuable out in daily life, anyway. It’s a vow of non-violence. And before you get an image of Gandhi in your head and think, Gee, no thanks, read through it. It will make you rethink your definition of violence.

Recognising the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the non-violence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God… You have learned how it was said, You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.’

Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus:

  • by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
  • by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
  • by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
  • by persevering in non-violence of tongue and heart;
  • by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
  • by actively resisting evil and working non-violently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.

God, I trust in your sustaining love and believe that just as you give me the grace and desire to offer this, so you will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.

(The above vow was provided by Pax Christi USA.)

The book I read recommends you take the vow for a specific period of time, like a year. But maybe that seems, well, hard. I know the “persevering in non-violence of heart and tongue” gave me pause. So why not try it out for the rest of this week? As we head to Easter, we’re confronted with the violent humiliation Christ suffered…and how His sacrifice changed everything. Maybe this week sacrificing that witty but hurtful retort, or that trolling comment on a blog, or the impatience in a supermarket line or traffic jam, could make a difference.

Now you're thinking about it.