This whole faith thing I sometime find too weird for words (and then find the words to express the lack of words). The bible. This document that divides even as it unites. Written by whom for what to whom? Still argued over. Still a source of any “holy justification” for all “unholy causes”.
I looked at today’s verses and thought if anyone wanted to “prove” the miracle of life over death, this is not the way it would be staged. This is not the way it would be recorded. This is not the way to convince people:
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’
- MaryM never went inside – yet knew all this even without
- No one else seems to have been interested enough to have a look
- Why even wait three days to have a look
Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.
- Nice little detail here.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.
- SimonP is the boss disciple.
- This detail – the head wrapping and its presentation
- The absence of any Roman guards
- The absence of any angels
- The absence of Jesus in any guise
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed.”
- “he saw and believed” – he saw nothing and believed everything
- And that is how it must be ever more.
John 20:1a, 2-8
Today I was struck by the clumsiness of this record. As though the lead character had left the stage and the scriptwriter along with him.
This is the most momentous element of the Christmas Story – the resurrection of the Living God. There had been resurrections – written and recorded with clarity and purpose. There had been healings – written and recorded as a matter of course. There had been miracles and there had been so many examples of “this cannot happen” that they became “this can happen”.
Yet this record is haphazard, is ambiguous, is “us” without “him”, is “him”, is the future right here in these few verses …
Verses to argue over, verses to debate, verses to fill in the blanks, verses that INVITE, verses that DON’T tell. Verses of something WE must create as we have been created. A faith that is loving and alive. A faith that is personal and changing. A faith that cannot be neat and tidy. A “something” that cannot be unchanging or static.
And yet we try so hard to make it so. We try so hard for the very control over others that this Christmas Story smashed into a zillion shards.
We try to make it religion, the established church, the creeds, the dogma, the theology, the compromise, the “one size fits all”, the if you are NOT for us you are against us. We still make it an either/or.
But try so hard to make it acceptable, make it nice, make it comfortable, make it easy. We come together to reinforce all of that. We call it worship. We call it church.
Every other verse of the gospel has had Jesus at its heart. Now we are the heart.
I am the heart. You are the heart. We have been for 2000+ years.
And we undo so much of what he did. We tidy away so much of what he untidied. We find the bible to be a source for stagnation again. Now the clarion call is for “the second coming” – the wail is “come back and save us” – the noise is the same noise Jesus walked amongst 2000+ years ago.
Except these verses change everything (or nothing).