Thursday, April 28, 2011

The challenges of the liturgical year....

when you're not really a liturgical person weigh me down some years, and this year is one of them. I struggled with Easter and eventually approached it from the sort-of-back-door of my deeply-held Universalism. Growing up a Baptist, I didn't get a lot of ceremonial stuff and have never felt the need for it.

I'm tired of the effort to rehash the ancient story in a new way. I just couldn't manage it this year. I did like the way the sermon came together and it did make sense of Easter for me one more time. But I feel uncomfortable with both the commercialism of the season and its liturgical expectations.

The story of a good and brilliant, compassionate and deep-thinking, courageous man whose efforts to get people to turn inward to find the Kingdom of Heaven set the religious world on a new trajectory----that's a really good story and it deserves to be told over and over.

But we seem to get stuck there. We re-enact the drama of the story from beginning to end and then drop the effort to live the life that good man promised we'd have if we looked within ourselves to find the compassion and connection we need. It's as though, once Jesus was dead, the impetus to find that inner joy disappeared for most folks in the welter of meeting their daily needs.

We celebrate the holiday liturgically, intone the right words, wave the right icons, and overlook the deep internal need to find our inner wellsprings of joy, from which our ability to give deep Love arises. It just feels hollow some years, as though we are mouthing words we don't really understand or believe, because we are not observing the real message of Jesus, which was to find that deep Love within and give it to others.

I have long felt puzzled by the need many have to believe that Jesus was God, that he really did turn water into wine, raise the dead, heal the sick, rise from his own tomb. Those events, true or not, are not the point of his ministry. The point is the message of Love---for God, for neighbor and enemy, for self. I don't believe that Jesus was a perfect being but I do believe he had discovered something essential about human living and an awful lot of so-called Christians are overlooking it.

I walked the road outside my door this morning, waving at cars driving by on their way to work, enjoying the blooming wild currant, the horsetails sticking up through the mud, the tiny slug-lets all along the road, the intriguing deer paths through the brambles, and then the broad view of Puget Sound, the shipping lanes, and Port Townsend across the way. It's a busy, not-so-scenic road but there is much life to share in a short walk, and I've come to find it a source of renewal and peace. Reveling in the actual season of spring, which predates any tale of resurrection, feels more appropriate than anything else, this year.

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