29 March 2010

Holy Monday 2010

In our weekly Bible class, I have caused more than a few Episcopalians to wince as we read the passion story. In my view, Caiaphas had a point as did Herod and Pilate. Before we feel smugly that we of course would discern the evident holiness of Jesus or stand when the apostles did not, we need to consider the events from their viewpoints.

Episcopal folk take a vow (often forgotten before the party that follows) when we are confirmed. We promise to be faithful, "even unto death." Yup it is there in the prayerbook. Our Lutheran cousins do the same in the same words. That is what we are 'confirming' when we affirm the oaths taken for us by our baptismal sponsors. Would we stand with Jesus in the garden? Why of course we would!

We would run. We run in daily life.

Consider the apostles' problem. Jesus did not affirm he was Messiah, he did not call on the people to expel the Hellenistic priests or the Roman political administration. Healing acts are all well and good but they do not cure a country under foreign influence and control. They wanted, believed they and all Palestine needed, revolution.

The troops came and they had no general. They had to have doubts: where were the legions of heaven? So they ran. Do we really think we do better?

When the troops come now in the form of war in the middle East, invasion and empire, cynical use of impoverished countries and all the sins of sexism, racism and the like so common to our age: we run. We run as a church when we continue to perform as agents of States that exclude lesbians and gays in their marriage process, when we take and indeed fight for, the tax advantages given by a State that expects (and gets) silence from us. We run as individuals when we tell the slighting joke at the expense of blacks, Mexicans, lbgt, Rom or Jews. We run when we do not stand for the victims, and with them. We even run when we offer a soup kitchen or shelter that carefully ends so that the recipients have time and incentive to leave before we get to the building.

We want to believe that had we been there we would have discerned better, stood taller and done better. Smugness at worst self delusion at best -- we run.

More on Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate later this week.


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