Monday, March 17, 2008

not much of a messiah

It weirded me out yesterday to come into the JIFC Warehouse Living Room for worship and see our beautiful yarn grid wrapped in plastic and all tied up. The yarn has been all about the complexity and beauty of God in the middle of us. We've put our prayers in it, our confessions, our hopes; we've released our attachments into it; we've seen images and patterns in it symbolizing God's presence in our lives.

But it was wrapped in plastic and all tied up. And I had said to do it. It was for worship. But still. It was awful.

It was Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus' so-called Triumphal Entry into the center of the world, Jerusalem, signaled the coming of the conquering King, The Messiah, or Chosen One. The Son of David, who would occupy the throne of the great symbolic king of Israel and who would bring the reign of God on earth. God in charge. God making all things right. And, the Son of God, who would cleanse the Temple of all that wasn't purely God's intention in the Jewish Law, and embody Torah's heart. He would reconnect Israel to its roots in God's Law, and all the world would come to Jerusalem for salvation. That was what everyone had been expecting, for a thousand years. The Messiah would bring "righteousness" - that is, everything would be as God wants it to be. And crush Rome.
Jesus didn't ride into town with a chariot and an army. He rode in on a borrowed donkey, or a colt, depending on which Gospel you read. His followers were thrilled; they sang the songs about the Messiah, and sang the Messiah-is-coming song, with the words "
Hosannah! The One who comes in the Name of Yahweh is blessed!" ("hosannah" means "save us!"). But it was hardly a triumphant entry of a conquering king. Way to ruin everybody's expectations. Jerk.
Jesus spent the week talking about what he understood God's righteousness really meant: love, and humility, and caring for the poor. He argued with the religious teachers about God's nature and how to live out God's Law, and parried back at the Temple authorities to whom he was a threat. And then Rome crushed him.
What Jesus was talking about isn't spectacular; it's quiet. It's small. It's seen in relationships between people, and serving humbly, and practicing love. Jesus taught his followers that, and they practiced it, and some people - crushed people, crucified people, people who were allowing themselves to be changed and transformed - were infected with what Jesus' God. And so are we. Crushed, crucified, changed, transformed people.

I'm not waiting for the conquering Messiah. Screw that. It just wraps God in plastic.

Jesus was a loving, patient, courageous Messiah. And we are the Messiah, now. We are here to be that vision of God. Of God's righteousness - of what God wants the world to be like. No parades, no armies, no politics, no earthly power. It's better than that.
When that happens, the plastic wrapping on God that we build when we contain God with our expectations comes falling down.


Joe Rutland said...

So I was soooo tired from working SXSW at the pizzeria from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. and getting home at either 5 or 5:30 a.m. during the week that I forgot it was Palm Sunday. Didn't even really hit me until Sunday night ... too fucking late to do anything about it then.

Anyway ... my SXSW experience on my blog TBA.

Yes, nowadays see The Triumphal Entry as meaningful. Just like Resurrection Sunday is, too. I felt sad watching the 10 p.m. news seeing children wave palm branches in church on Palm Sunday morning. I wanted to be there, watching my child waving his or her palms. I just want that experience before I die, God.

Palm. Sunday. Maundy. Thursday. Good. Friday. Quiet. Saturday. Resurrection. Sunday.

How sweet it is.

Blessings, my brutha ...


Rick Diamond said...

right on baby. right on.

Chiron' said...

Amen brother...AHM IN.