Saturday, March 30, 2013

Would I Have Stayed?

I used to wonder what I would have done if I was a disciple of Jesus at the time of his crucifixion. Would I have stayed by his side to the end as Peter so confidently promised? Would I have been a part of the crowd like Simon of Cyrene, passively looking on until being called forth into history?  Would I, like Jesus' closest friends, have fallen asleep at the very pinnacle of humanity's story and fled in the face of the deepest love the world has ever known?

Between the last supper and the resurrection, Jesus asked those who loved him to pay attention and they got bored. Instead of staying with him, they fled. In the face of uncertainty, they chose to doubt. They traded the pain that accompanied faithfulness for the immediate safety found in betrayal.

What would it have meant for the disciples to remain with Jesus, to be present? It would have required them to truly mourn. But what did they do instead? They were in denial. They distracted themselves. They escaped.

As I think back over Lent, I no longer wonder which choice I would have made. While the season and Scriptures are exhorting me to deny myself, remove distractions, and trust in the Holy Spirit's creative and transformative work I consistently choose everything else.

With history as my indicator, I am confident that I would have left Jesus behind just like the rest, just like I often do. I choose not to see and with eyes heavy from unilluminated realities, I escape into a world of distractions.

And I am apt to stay away until rumors of celebration catch my ear. Whispers of a resurrected Jesus draw me back. But then, like a son who has squandered my father's inheritance I am hesitant to celebrate exuberantly! After all, should not the ones who did not lose hope be the ones to experience their hope fulfilled?

Yet with each self-loathing reminder that I did not stay, I hear the counter remark:
Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on her, put a ring on her hand and shoes on her feet! She is back! Let the celebration begin!
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt
A grace that never runs out

Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt

Like the laborers in the vineyard we are all called to celebrate, no matter when we joined in the work. The light of the resurrection outshines any thought of unworthiness. The time of mourning is over! Each and every person is invited to the banquet!

For Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!

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