“Greatest story ever told, told by some soon grows cold, cruel and bloodless.” – Rick Elias, “Pray for the Day,” Ten Stories.
I think of this lyric every Easter. I will think about as I read my Facebook timeline. I will think about when Stephanie Drury over at “Things Christians LIke” begins retweeting the worst posts of the week. It will be there for you, too. Hopefully not from your pulpit; but quite possibly you will hear it while standing around the coffee machine. We as Christians can and will say some dumb things about the crucifixion this week. Many of us will do innocently, and honestly. We will take the greatest mystery of our faith and slip into our modern enlightenment mode try to make it make sense in 140 characters or less. It’s what we do. For that I apologize to you dear reader and ask for your forgiveness in advance.
We don’t mean to be trite and senseless; but we will be. We don’t mean to be foolish and naive and simplistic but we will be. Standing in a church this week you will hear what Agent Smith in the Matrix referred to as the sound of inevitability. In our attempts to explain. In our attempts to defend.In our to make it all make sense, we will stumble and stutter and fail. Why is failure inevitable? Because the crucifixion and resurrection cannot be explained or defended or made to make sense. Not in a book. Not in a series of books. And definitely not in 140 words or less. There is no elevator pitch to be memorized or devised. There is no sermon or series that can alleviate the condition. Even Sherlock Holmes, himself, will not be waiting at Baker Street to explain to us stupid viewers how all the pieces add up and fit together.
What we celebrate this week is a mystery. In the liturgical church each week we refer to it as “the mystery of our faith.” And just like all mysteries, it cannot or will not ever be explained. If it could it would cease being a mystery. If it could be rationalized, it would stop being a matter of faith.
And I am OK with that. And if you what to call yourself a Christian, you must come to that place, too.
I was talking with two good friends this evening, One was talking about being asked by friends: “what is different about your faith now,” And to their consternation he replied, “I don’t know.” They asked what he didn’t know, and he said, ” you missed the point. Now I am comfortable saying, ‘I. Don’t. Know,'”
In my mind that is a good place to be. I was taught to have all the answers. To anticipate the questions and respond with preventive measures. I was taught how to be sure and confident. I was taught to be a Godly Know It All. Then one day I realized, I didn’t. That was the worst, most scary day of my life. I was shaken to my core, and I spent the better part of my sophomore year of college putting the pieces back together until I realized the pieces did not fit, never would fit, and that would have to be OK.
That was when I realized just what it meant “to rest in God.” I learned that God is bigger. God is stranger. God is more. And he did not require me to know it all. He was not concerned that I understand him; just that I love him. Just that I show up and listen. Just that I show up and care.
So this week, no offense to the posters, I will avoid all the links to “99 proofs that the resurrection was real.” I will shy away from pithy tweets that have the terms Jesus, death, and life in them. But I will show up on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and Easter Vigil. And on Sunday I will ring my bell and yell “He is risen, indeed” at the top of my lungs. And throughout the week I will sing along with Rick:
I will wait. I will pray. I will not explain. I will not defend. I will wait. I will pray. I will let the mystery sit and breathe. I will marvel. I will wait. I will pray. He is my God. He is alive. That is enough. It has to be. It will be. Some day.