Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wake Up!

I've been attending an afternoon Bible Study for a few months now. It's become one of the highlights of my week -  never have I been surrounded by such an authentic, seeking, open, questioning, grace-filled group of people. It's a loosely-structured discussion of the selected readings for each week of the church calendar. We share about what words, images and ideas attract or repel us; we ask what Jesus might be saying to each of us; and we try to discern to what action God might be calling us. We talk a lot about historical and cultural context and intended audience and what might lie beneath the most obvious, literal interpretation.

It's really delightful. Under the (often) gentle, (usually) tactful, broad-minded and knowledgeable guidance of our leader, I'm gradually being unfettered from some legalistic shackles that have weighed me down since childhood regarding biblical study and interpretation. Looking at the Scriptures with fresh eyes has been...well...refreshing!

Sometimes I come away from having met with our study group filled with joy, sometimes in tears, sometimes with even more questions. But today, disappointment was the overwhelming emotion that accompanied me as I walked out the door.

Since Easter is this coming Sunday, one of the readings was, of course, the resurrection account - this year from the book of Luke. (You know, the one about the women discovering the angel in the empty tomb early in the morning on the third day,  and then running to tell the disciples.)

We spent a lot of time looking at the details, comparing each Gospel's similarities and differences, imagining the deep grief and fear the disciples must have been experiencing. There was thoughtful, thought-provoking conversation.

But no one - not even me - expressed even a speck of  the wonder, the amazement, the marvel, the joy of the actual event itself. Maybe we were saving it for Easter? Maybe we'd heard it so often it had lost it's meaning?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I know my own heart. It was definitely NOT bubbling over with gratitude, bursting with joyful song, reveling in the reality of forgiveness and grace and new life and deep love that wouldn't be possible without Jesus' death and resurrection...

This hit me hard in the middle of our discussion, and I wrote this in my Bible, below the passage: "I miss the wonder I used to feel at this wonderful, wondrous story. On Easter morning I used to almost jump out of my skin with excitement, delight, joy that Jesus had risen and was alive. What happened?!?"

And while I had gleaned some new and interesting thoughts that helped me appreciate parts of the story in a deeper way, I walked out of the room deeply myself.

But now, I'm thankful. It feels like a wake-up call of sorts, like a kind of murky film has been peeled off my soul. I think I'll journey through the rest of this most Holy week with eyes and heart wide open, better prepared to grieve and mourn and repent and marvel and rejoice and celebrate.

Some beautiful words to ponder as we follow the path of the Passion:


When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.