(Posted May 3, 2019)
“life is too short for fake butter or fake people.” ― Karen Salmansohn, author
As most of us have experienced, there are times in our lives – hard times – when it’s really, really hard to find Jesus in the middle of it all. Ever since Easter I’ve been struck by how, in many ways, our looking for the goodness of God is a continuation of a hunt for Easter eggs. Our faith tells us that God’s there, hiding under some daffodil (or even under a skunk cabbage). But we’re the ones who have to put in the effort to find that goodness.
Recently, and even a few times in these same few weeks, we people who believe in goodness have been brought up short emotionally by the kind of sorrow and tragedy that oozes out of the festering wound of blind hatred and violence. Sri Lanka. The Chabad of Poway, California. The University of North Carolina. And literally hundreds and hundreds of acts of daily violence and bullying that don’t make the news. How do we even deal with these acts? Is there anything we can do with the information?
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The truth is, we Jesus believers were going through the exact same thing in the weeks and years right after the first Easter, when the zealots of the time, unable to tolerate difference of belief, sought to snuff out the early followers of Christ. There was no one more intent to kill off Jesus believers than the man called Saul – a Benjaminite and Zealot who rounded up and led them to be killed. But, as Karen Salmansohn, who I quoted at the beginning of this meditation, also says, “I'd rather have an enemy who admits that they hate me, than a friend who secretly puts me down.” Saul was just such an enemy, someone who God was about to flip from foe to friend of Christians. Then God stepped in and knocked Saul off his high horse, blinded him, and left him exposed to the love Jesus taught as he was tended to over a few days, until he could really see. Saul the killer became Paul the best friend of the Savior. His conversion led him to become, with out a doubt, the man who created the Christian Church. He became known for writing extraordinary letters to troubled churches when they were being persecuted by others, or even by their own deep flaws.
The thing is, amidst the carnage and confusion, the pain and persecution that is at the root of most terrorism and bullying, we need to look for the hidden Jesus, the Easter egg of possibility that such awful moments present to us. We CAN find ways to enhance understanding of one another when blind rage comes to call. We CAN find a resurrection moment whenever people stand up to evil and say, “No more. I will do whatever I can to comfort others, and to let them know that only love triumphs in the end.”
We need a post-Easter uprising, a moment to sift through the wreckage of human failure, and find the places that Jesus has hidden himself, waiting to be found by us, where we become the instruments of God’s peace, the healers who restore the sight of those who cannot yet see our common brotherhood. Join me on Sunday when we tackle the hard questions of what we do with our own sense of betrayal and how we heal ourselves and the world. - Pastor Pat Kriss