After Friday when we remembered the betrayal, beating, crucifixion and death of Jesus, we now find ourselves at Easter with an amazing story of life after death… my question of the day is:
Who is this God we know in Jesus? Who is this God we experience in the life and teaching of Jesus?
- Not a God of judgment
- Not a God who requires right belief or perfect action
- Not a God of human blood sacrifice
- Not a God of punishment
- Not a God of anger
- A God who wants to bring wholeness
- A God who offers second chances
- A God who forgives and heals
- A God of love and grace and mercy
- A God who brings new life after death
Having a relationship with this God is transformative. And that is the goal of the spiritual journey… inner transformation that is then expressed outward and transforms the world.
(For the video version, click here.)
The story of Jesus that brings us here is that everything that could go wrong did. And yet, what was perceived as the end was not the end. In the surprise of Easter morning there is life beyond death… define it or understand it however you will. What is clear to me is that there was some significant experience of Jesus after his physical death for people to be transformed from those who deserted him to those who spread his teachings.
We all experience tragedies, chaos, and loss. We experience times when everything that could go wrong did and the rug is swept out from under us. We’re not quite sure how to go forward… if we can go forward. This is when we are laid bare and raw. All the protective layers we had have been broken through and we’re cracked to the core. But it is at our core where we find our fire and light. It is at our core where we find that the Divine has not left us, but is piecing us back together into something new.
Perhaps we have made mistakes or decisions that haunt us. Having a relationship with the God of Jesus means that we trust in a Spirit who will come to us and say, in the words of Susan McCaslin, “I destroy your blunders and pasty efforts and blow them to smithereens to make all things new.”
Perhaps we have experienced loss that has left us empty and bereft and stuck… having a relationship with the God of Jesus means opening up to the Spirit who will gild that pain with light, and will lift the weight of despair with the knowledge that LOVE NEVER DIES because we are all ONE. Everyone who has always been, and everyone who will ever be, is connected to us.
I do believe that we can help or hinder our own transformation. To open to transformation means letting go. Letting go of guilt, anger, grief, beating yourself up, shame, fear. Letting go is scary because we don’t quite know what might be required of us. It means once again trusting in the God that we know through Jesus to take what sometimes feels like the very little we have left and bring creative, life-giving energy to it.
Believing the God that we know through Jesus means believing that we shall rise. Out of the tragedies, the devastation, the losses, the many small and large deaths (real and metaphorical) in our lives, we shall rise.
We can’t give up… suicide is the most extreme way of giving up. But we can’t give up by closing down and shutting off, by turning to bitterness or anger, by allowing despair to rule our lives. If we lean into the pain and open to the pain we instead allow the creative love of God to work within us helping us to find our way to better tomorrows. And I believe with all my heart that there are better tomorrows. That there is new life. That we do rise from the ashes of our lives.