Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Last Post in Lent



This post is rather late, as I've been up north, looking at deserted villages near Helmsdale in Sutherland. The weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed exploring Helmsdale and Brora as well as Bad Bea and the Old Castle of Wick. We celebrated Palm Sunday in Brora, a tiny, but friendly parish, which set the tone for the last week in Lent. We had the belssing of the palms, and a short procession, and at the Gospel there was the reading of St Matthew's Passion. In the newsletter there was the comment:

'the phrase His blood be upon us and upon our children is a reference to the sack of Jerusalem in 68 AD and not an excuse for anti-semitismn..

This can't be said too often.

'the phrase His blood be upon us and upon our children is a reference to the sack of Jerusalem in 68 AD and not an excuse for anti-semitismn..

All my life this has been said to me, and yet, it needs saying. I'm less shocked by the bad behaviour I hear about, as people will always make excuses to blame the outsider, but what really bothered me was the story of a village in Poland where the Catholics all helped and protected their Jewish neighbours, and enabled them to escape, but were terrified that their priest would condemn them for being disloyal to their faith. How do people get their faith so mixed up?

Actually the story of the Passion has been a fairly constant example of how people often get their faith mixed up. From a sado-masochistic wallowing in the suffering and pain involved, to the interpretation of God as a strict legalistic tit-for-tat lawyer demanding that someone has to die because of the Fall, from the blaming and name-calling to the emotional blackmail that D H Lawrence describes when he imagines Christ saying, "I got this for you, Ursula Brangwen, now shut up and do as you are told", there have always been fairly dysfunctional presentations of a story that is meant to be about liberation, about forgiveness, compassion and new life.

But then, what really crucified Jesus was the dysfunctional views of our relationship with God - our fear that religion demands more than we are capable of giving, that it means conforming, no matter what the pain, that it is about punishment and rejection, and suffering for the cause. Let's not pretend that faith is all sweetness and light, consolation and reward - it can be demanding, and integrity can be painful. The way out of the messes we get ourselves into is no walk in the park. But it is, genuinely, a way out. Easter is the Good News, after all!

I wish all of you - Christians of all traditions, observers of all faiths and none, some good news, some liberation from what grieves you, some spring-time joy and new life. Happy Easter!

4 comments:

Fat Dormouse said...

Thank you for this - something to chew over in the coming week.
Thank you for your posts during Lent - I've not always commented but I have read them & found them valuable.
May you & your family be blessed this Easter.

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

Thank you for the very kind comments. happy Easter to you and yours, too!

Floss said...

Hello Elizabeth, I'm so late in commenting but in fact I've found this post at just the right time for me! If you have a look at some of my Holy Week posts (prayers for my chidren) you'll see how what I've been thinking about echoes what you posted about here.

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

Thank you Floss, I'm glad to have helped! I have been reading your posts this week - sounds like you are in a real growing time with your family!