Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lent 4B: Change the World - a response to the Christian PTSD of Lent

Today's Gospel text in John (3:14-21) is talking about making tough dark and light decisions. As Jesus moves closer and closer to his death, the question of who is in and who is out become more important. Like times in our lives when we have felt on the margins or close to an all or nothing, life or death decisions it is very human to limit ourselves to the company of those who agree 100% with us. In times of life and death it is important.

Nellie McKay's "Change the World" draws out the way it feels to be in the midst of this kind of decision.

Her political satire and playful humor also reminds us that this is not a way to live every day. As the community trying to live ethical Christian lives in the aftermath of Jesus' brutal death, we must be aware of the PTSD that we care from reenacting and retelling this Lenten story every year. Most importantly, we must remember that this act happened in the past and it is not happening now.

While it may be easier to justify decisions that are all or nothing in times of war, terror and trauma, Lent should be a time of remembering, not retraumatizing!

So this Sunday, we take a peak into what it is like to make decisions in Lent, but we also stay in touch with our present realities, families, communities and remember that this is a story about Jesus - not us or our church. While the words of the Gospel text may speak to a much more emergent time, it is not a life or death decision for others to agree with us, believe just as we do or to hide away in dark rooms only with people who agree with us.

In fact, if we don't want to get into a Lenten situation again, where people are required to agree to religious and political ideology or end up on a cross, it would seem that tolerance and compassion would be our way to avoid that fate.

I've always wondered why people have tried so hard to do exactly as Jesus did, when the story so clearly ends badly for him (at least in the story that ends at Good Friday - as the oldest version of the Gospel of Mark do).

God is dynamic and learns by interacting with creation. I propose that we follow that example. Let us be people who are dynamic and learn by interacting with God.