Saturday, April 25, 2015

"This Land is Whose Land?"

“It’s Earth Day?”, I said to myself. My morning commute was accompanied by my usual friend on the radio who told me that the piece I was listening to, something about nature, was offered in honor of Earth Day. My virtual friend, whose personality I know only from the radio show he hosts, surprised me with his next comment: “Today we honor our Mother Earth. We should be thankful today for all of the gifts we receive from our Mother.” Following which he played another beautiful piece of music inspired by the world that surrounds us.

“Mother Earth?”, I said to myself, out loud this time. “Well,” my nature-loving side debated, “we do call the earth ‘Mother Earth’. You got a problem with that old man?”  “Yes,” I replied to my nature-inspired self, “and calling my ideas ‘old’ isn’t helping your case, so watch your language. My problem is that I think the term ‘Mother Earth’ confuses the Creator with the Created.  The Earth, I suppose you could say, has a personality. It certainly is unique among the planets and, it seems, unique among the whole (known) universe.  But I don’t think of the Earth as my mother, nor even as the earth as the mother of anything else. The earth didn’t ‘give birth’ to gifts.” 

“Not so fast, fuddy-duddy”, my tree-hugger side laughed. “Let’s agree that God created the earth. So says the holy writings relied upon by Jews and Christians to know the One True God. But once God created the Earth it started re-producing itself. It started shaking inside so much that mountains and islands popped up. The land started drifting about into continents separated by oceans. And then, well you see what became of all of those fish and birds and furry creatures.  Except for the ones that are gone forever (or at least until New Earth.) You don’t call those gifts?”

“Gifts they are,” my theologian-self agreed, “but from whom? I am thankful for annual reminder of Earth Day, remembering my awe of what is and my regret over what is not.  But the one who weeps at our ignorant disregard of the gift of Creation is not our Mother Earth, but our God, who blesses us like a Father and Mother both. I love you, tree-hugger side of myself; but I don’t want you to ever forget who gave us trees to hug and who commanded us to keep them safe until the Creator makes them new.”

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"The End is Still to Come" (Part 2)

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end. No, the week that began with “Hosanna” didn’t end the way anyone had wanted. I wonder if Jesus was surprised by the ending.

Low in the grave he lay. His friends observe the Sabbath as observant Jews do. But their hearts are broken into as many pieces as a heart can break.  Fear grips them, one eye always on the door, one ear listening for approaching footsteps or pounding horse hooves.  Friday was not their best day. In fact, the way they retreated in the final hour, they could not bear the thought of how they contributed to making it the world’s worst day. Messiah is dead.

They review in their heads his sermons. Collectively they try to piece them together, asking each other how exactly he phrased those beautiful and ominous words. “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of the birth pains.” (Mark 13:7-8, NIV) Yes, those were the words.

Is it possible that this is not the end then? Dare we hope that the pain we feel, the fear with which we face the world today could still be replaced with hope?  The birth pains are just beginning, which must mean that there are more pains of the birthing process to happen. But, is the tomb of despair also a womb of delight?

On this Saturday, stirring in the tomb which is a womb, the end is being written.  Do not be deceived. What you see are just signs that the best ending ever imagined is written on the last page.  Do not be afraid. The life you live today, the pain, the anguish, the stones which seemingly cannot be rolled away in your life, will be moved.

It is Saturday.  When life has entombed you on Saturday, recall what He said, “…but the end is still to come.” Live for this ending. You won’t want to miss it.