Category Archives: Holiday

Anarchy and Christmas: No Gods! No Masters! Just a Baby in a Food Trough (Or…How Christmas is Witchcraft)

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SoLogically…”

In the scene above, the crew of Monty Python, riffing on the absurdity of witch “trials” of the past, comedically imbue the proceedings with “logic” and “reason.” But the humor stems from just how illogical their logic is. Their not emotionally brash, feeble minded people, just looking for a biblical “scapegoat” to burn, if for nothing but perhaps to pass the time, distract from the pain of present existence, and feel something like feeling alive…

No no. They’re analyzing, assessing, and handling the situation logically. They’re giving REASON to their “NEED” …to burn a witch.
Otherwise it’d be chaos…
Anarchy!

Well it’s Christmas. And for anyone that knows me, it’s my favorite time of year. It always serves to remind me of who I am, in a good way, connecting with aspects of myself that get forgotten through the year. I always feel like singing. And I always cry when I do. All of this, inevitably paired with flare ups of some pretty extreme anxiety.
I think that’s actually the true beauty of the season. It reveals.
Today is Winter Solstice, actually, and when I was a Montessori teacher, my means of inclusivity for celebrating this season was to say that the entirety of the holiday season was ultimately a celebration of light. No matter the belief, or holiday celebrated, ultimately what was being celebrated was light. Because light is almost sacred, especially in the darkest of darks, deep in the dark of winter. Because there’s beauty in light. Because light reveals. Much in the same way a refining fire purifies. For those that celebrate Christmas specifically, they celebrate the coming of the light of the world, into the world. In John Chapter 8, Jesus calls himself “the light of the world.”
Light reveals. Like fire burns. And refining fire purifies.

Ephesians 5:13
All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.

Anything brought to the light BECOMES…light.

And I always find it fascinating the promises (or indicatives) just glossed over without any further thought. “When.” Not, “if.”
ALL THINGS become visible WHEN they are exposed by the light. Everything becomes light when it is exposed to the light. And “when” means that everything WILL be exposed to the light.
Wow, that sounds kinda like a magic spell. Some form of magic or witchcraft.

Kinda like turning water into wine at a party where everyone is already drunk.

Witchcraft

A magic spell, that doesn’t dispel darkness, nor destroy it. A magic spell that changes darkness into light.
Hey, can you imagine being a kid and having that magic at your disposal?
Oy. To anyone and everyone scared of the dark, this sort of magic has got to be some good news.

When I was younger, I was confused about a specific verse in the song, “G-d Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

In Bethlehem, in Israel
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
*The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

See, I didn’t understand the English structure or meaning, so when I heard it, I heard it with the assumption they were calling Baby Jesus a witch. THE Witch.
In Bethlehem, in Israel
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The WITCH, His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Baby Jesus was a witch! A child of prophecy! Bringing tidings of comfort and joy…
And to my credit, the story isn’t THAT far off from what is often part of some story like that.

Good news of great joy. Tidings of comfort and joy “that will be for all people. (Greek: pas)” (Luke 2:10)
So was it good news of great joy? For all people? For literally EVERYONE?
And…is it?
IS Christmas “good news of great joy” for–and no exaggeration here–literally everyone?

What about Herod?

How’d Herod view Christmas and what it symbolizes? What about those like Herod? I mean, you shepherds, tending their flocks by night, what we would basically call backwoods poorfolk. More than just peasants. Hillbillies maybe. The lowest of the low. Bottom tier, on the social hierarchy. They get the proclamation from the heavenly host. Like a crazy LSD trip. And they go. Maybe because like the peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it reveals something more than the pain of present existence. And, given their life, anything more is a good thing. But what about those at the top? The kings. The businessman. The Herods.

Well according to the story, we KNOW how Herod responded.

Herod went on a witch hunt.

But…why?

Was it for the baby’s magic? The same reason Queen Bavmorda hunted down Elora Danan in Willow?

Fuck Yeah Willow — “Turned against me…”“This child will have no power over me.”

Same story we’ve heard over and over. Good news to EVERYONE! Except…the one (or many) who will be overthrown.

By a baby.
A weak easily killable thing.

Later in Willow, the main character tells his family, “Under no condition, whatsoever, is anyone in this family to fall in love with that baby!

Isn’t that witchcraft?
LOVE??
At least according to ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, it is.

Those fingers in my hair
That sly come-hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
It’s witchcraft

Faith Hill sung a song about how a baby changes everything, and last year at this time, I talked about how that IS, indeed the case, and just what a baby causes you to face.

Both my kids fiddle with my hair. And there is just this look they both can give that beckons me over.
Like two little witches.

And their witchcraft DOES indeed, serve to strip my conscience bare.

Maybe there are just those that don’t like the idea of that. Maybe Herod just wasn’t ready to have his conscience stripped bare.

Or maybe it’s all about the loss of control. Specifically power. Herod was top tier.
And that good news of great joy for ALL PEOPLE, was bad news for non-peoples.
For those parts that don’t WANT to be all people. They want to be above all people. In some way or another.

What comes to mind when you hear the word, “anarchy”?

Lawlessness? The protests throughout this year? ACAB? Defund the Police?
The end of the suburbs?
An end to law and order? To civility? To decency?

anarcybgdc

Makes sense. Except lawlessness is barbarism. And anarchy isn’t barbarism.

Anarchy comes from the Greek for having no ruler, but really has more to do with being in opposition to archos—not merely a ruler, but someone above another. Basically, any “archy” is a hierarchy. And the preface “an” denotes being “anti” archy. Maybe not always AGAINST hierarchies of any kind, but perhaps simply being the OPPOSITE. Like an atheist doesn’t always denote being AGAINST theism, but just being the opposite of a theist, being NOT a theist.

Or like a king who chooses not to come in power, but the opposite of power. In weakness. Vulnerability. The lowest of the low. And invites US to care for the king like you would a helpless baby.
Witchcraft

You see, anarchy believes there is no justification to rule. That all rule comes out of force, not consent. And when you enter a RELATIONSHIP, well true love comes from consent, NOT force.
A baby doesn’t FORCE me to care for it. I give up myself to do so.
Like a spell or something cast over me.
Like some sort of…

WITCHCRAFT

Chesterton spoke heavily of the metaphor of Christmas in his book, “The Everlasting Man.
And in it, he refers to “The G-d in the Cave.”
He talks of how in that region, in those days, farmers and shepherds would more often take advantage of the caves in the surrounding region to shelter their livestock, than they were to build entirely new structures just for animals.
So Christmas is the story of the G-d most high, being born underground. Almost as if G-d was being smuggled in.
And in doing so, flipped the world upside-down. The G-d above all, was now below all.
The top, was now bottom. The first last, and the last first.

When I was younger, I used to believe in Christmas as G-d’s means of bringing order to a disordered world. A world CRAVING for order, and striving to create it anywhere it can.
(In fact, one of the only times the Bible mentions a vote is during the Easter story, when Pontius Pilate told the people to vote for which prisoner he was to free. And the people chose Barabbas. Barabbas literally means son of the Rabbi. Who interpreted the LAW. When faced with a choice between two Jesuses, between two SONS, the people chose “Law and Order.)

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that it’s the exact opposite. Christmas isn’t about bringing order to our disorder. But about bringing disorder to our order.

“…heaven above the earth, and hell under the earth. But in the riddle of Bethlehem, it was heaven that was under the earth.
There is in that alone the touch of a revolution, as of the world turned upside-down.
(Everlasting Man, pg. 173)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

In Jesus, the “Light of the world,” there are no separations. There are no “dividing walls of hostility.” Because everything becomes light when brought to the light.
I wonder what else there is neither of in Jesus.
Maybe something like “there’s neither secular nor religious, there is neither rich nor poor, there is neither radical left nor radical right, communist nor capitalist, gay nor straight, cis nor trans.”
Powerful nor weak.
Those above and those below.

Basically, it sounds like what Galatians 3:28 is getting at, is that “there are no means of establishing “archy” of any kind in Jesus. There are NO HIERARCHIES in light, because it’s all light and it’s all ONE.”

ANARCHY…

Christmas isn’t about order. Its about disorder.
To OUR ORDER.

It’s like taking something and blaspheming it.
Like a punk rock edition of silent night.
Or a band called “Bad Religion” singing O Come O Come Emmanuel.

Christmas is ANARCHY.

To our “archy.” Our hierarchies. Our rulers. Our rulings.
Our RULES.

Because LOVE is the ultimate anarchy.

Anarchy Is For Lovers

No force. Consent.

And that’s good news of great joy to all.

Just not to power. And not to you if you believe YOU ARE YOUR POWER.
What would you say gives you power? Your masculinity? Your femininity?
Your money? Your position? Who you vote for?
That you’re an American?
Your smarts? Your skills?

What if Christmas actually poses a threat to those things?
What if you started seeing Christmas as something that scared you?
Witchcraft! Anarchy!
Disorder! Chaos!
An upside-down world!

A baby, the light of the world, G-d, the G-d above, willingly taking a place BENEATH you? Below you?
Where YOU are above G-d? The King of Kings, weak. In need of your care. Of your love.
All that you believed and the order you formed your life around, suddenly flipped upside-down and sent into disarray.
Like riots. Or a virus. Or an election.

Like Witchcraft.
Like Anarchy.

How much like Herod are you? How much like Queen Bavmorda?
Does Christmas insult you?
Does Christmas threaten you?

This child will have no power over me.

Does Christmas SCARE you?
Does it scare you enough…

If heaven and hell switch places, those closest to heaven end up becoming those closest to hell.
I would imagine they’d like to make sure they maintain their position.
Their proximity to heaven.
But not at the expense of themselves.

Which is often what love calls for.

Love calls to us, at the expense of ourselves. And it calls us to surrender control. Surrender our lives.

Maybe that’s why we hate magic.
We’ve “got no defense for it
the heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do?

I wonder if the real meaning of Christmas is an insult to our common sense. Our reason. Our logic.
And because of that, its as much witchcraft as that witch in Monty Python was, simply because of logic. And weighing the same as a duck.

Maybe the fire the burns in you around this time of year is a spell. Meant to burn away all that is not. Refine. However long and however many Christmases it may take.

When you arouse the need in me
My heart says “Yes, indeed” in me
“Proceed with what you’re leadin’ me to”

Nevertheless, not my will, but YOURS be done.
Proceed with what you’re leadin’ me to.

Become light. Let go of your order. Become love. Let go of your rule.
Embrace the Anarchy and the Witchcraft of Christmas…

What I think I’m saying is, surrender.
And in Jesus’ name, see what a little Anarchy and Witchcraft does to you, and for your spirit, this holiday season.
->and the world WILL be better for this…

Thanks to all my patrons, parishioners, and anonymous supporters for their encouragement and support in writing and publishing this piece:
Abel
Astrid
Caleb
David
Gabe
Jess
Jen
Kelly
Manis
Mathunna
Max
Trini

 

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Filed under Celebrating, Celebrations, Christmas, God stuff, Holiday

Give Thanks and Let It Kill You

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“Good times gone, and you missed them.
What’s gone wrong in your system?

Good times gone, but you feed it.
Hate’s grown strong, you feel you need it.
Just one thing, do you know you?

What’s gonna set you free?
Look inside and you’ll see.
When you’ve got so much to say, it’s called gratitude.
And that’s right.”

Well how many have found this year incredibly easy to be grateful for? No?
Quite opposite, most likely.
In the season of thanksgiving, how do you…give THANKS when there seems so little to give thanks for?

Good times seem a distant memory, and we miss them.
A year of isolation, of misinformation, of lies, and of hate.

When the obscene and the profane overwhelms, where is the sacred? And how do you give thanks?
What does Thanksgiving even look like anymore?

WHERE IS THE MEANING IN ALL THIS MEANINGLESSNESS???

Well if you’ve been keeping up with me for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve spoken to some extent on the subject of meaning. And about just maybe where the presence of eternity is (hint: here and now, if only you just LOOK for it). However, I was asked recently about what my thoughts were on “those who are worthy of inheriting the kingdom of G-d.” And while I gave a pretty stream of consciousness answer to a very heavy question, I’ve got to be honest, it’s weighed on me since being asked (but in a good way. A good…weigh.). Particularly in light of both the Thanksgiving holiday, and also this holiday season itself.

Who are those worthy of inheriting the Kingdom???

At first glance, I think it’s easy to reduce this answer into doctrine and dogma, and by doing so, completely miss the meaning. And the wonder.
The Kingdom is G-d’s presence. Where G-d dwells. Nothing shameful nor deceitful can enter. It is a place consecrated. Set apart. Holy.
Sacred.

Sanctified.

So it would make sense that those “worthy of inheriting” the Kingdom are ALSO set apart. Also Holy. Those worthy of inheriting a holy, sacred, sanctified and set apart Kingdom…are those who THEMSELVES are holy, sacred, sanctified and set apart.
And YET, we’re told by Jesus that when you pray, it should be like this (form and structure, including these elements): “Thy KINGDOM COME, Thy WILL BE DONE. Here on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Those of you that pray the Lord’s prayer. Those of you that say those exact words, do you ACTUALLY EVEN BELIEVE IT? Do you actually MEAN the words you say when you say them? G-d’s Kingdom come, here and now on earth as it is in heaven, G-d’s Will be done, here and now on earth as it is in heaven.” Do you mean it? Do you really want that? Not to wait for death in order to reach Heaven, but for Heaven to DWELL, HERE and NOW, on earth. (We ARE told to seek the Kingdom first, not wait for heaven….seek the Kingdom HERE and NOW. And given the promise that when we seek, we SHALL find… hmmmmm. I don’t know if that was meant to be a brain teaser.)

I wonder if that’s actually the second bit of that prayer: G-d’s Will be done. The Will IS for the Kingdom to “come,” here and now, on earth. 

Well so then what IS this Kingdom that we’re asking to come and be here and now?
What IS the “Will” that we’re asking to come and be here and now?

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is G-d’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

THIS is G-d’s will: “chairō pantote; proseuchomai adialeiptōs; eucharisteō pas.”

chairō pantote: lit. “be glad always”
proseuchomai adialeiptōs: lit. “pray incessantly”
eucharisteō pas: lit. “be thankful in all (or all things)”

Wow. So G-d’s Will is to celebrate Thanksgiving more than just once a year, and more than just for America.
Hey did you catch the Greek word for being thankful, or professing (verbally) thanks, the Greek word for “giving thanks” is eucharisteō? Where we get our word eucharist? If you’re not Catholic, the Eucharist is the holy tradition of transubstantiation. Begun by Jesus and His Apostles at the Last Supper, transubstantiation is when priests turn bread and wine into His Real Presence, His Body and Blood.
You may think of it as Communion.
Now I’m no Catholic (hell, I’m also probably not much of a Protestant), but I find it fascinating that the Eucharist IS Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving IS…the Eucharist.

And partaking in it IS G-d’s will.

Maybe the Beastie Boys were right:
What’s gonna set you free?
Look inside and you’ll see.
When you’ve got so much to say, it’s called gratitude.
And that’s right.

So G-d’s Will is to be THANKFUL. In ALL THINGS. Good, bad, sacred, profane.
But…WHY? And what about the Kingdom Come?
Is it just the power of positive thinking? Denial of negativity, of wickedness, of obscenity and profanity?

Is G-d’s will just for us to force ourselves to be happy and optimistic, even if/when we’re not?

Romans 12: 2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what the will of G-d is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Well we’re told what the will of G-d is: To give thanks in ALL things.
But again, WHY? Just because we’re commanded to?

1 Timothy 4:4-5
For everything created by G-d is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude (eucharisteō); for it is sanctified by means of the word of G-d and prayer.

Now…I have to take a moment and address the thing we need to take note of: throughout scripture, you’ve got a message that G-d created all things, good AND bad.
Ephesians 3:9 “G-d, who created all things”.
Isaiah 45:7 “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and chaos (lit. evil): I am the Lord who does all these.
Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible G-d, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
John 1:1-3 “In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d. He was in the beginning with G-d. All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Those last two are referring to Jesus. But they call him “the Word.” And in “the Word,” ALL THINGS are not only made, but ALL THINGS hold together. “Word” here in the Greek is logos. Literally meaning “spoken word.” But also “reason,” and even “meaning.”
So when we look back at 1 Timothy 4, “For everything created by G-d is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude (eucharisteō); for it is sanctified by means of THE WORD (lit. logos) of G-d and prayer.”

If a thing is received with gratitude, that is, a spoken word of thanksgiving, it is SANCTIFIED by means of THE WORD.

When you’ve got so much to say it’s called gratitude.
And that’s right.” 
What if all you say (your spoken word, lit. “logos”) IS gratitude, that is, IS Thanksgiving (eucharisteō), and you aren’t even aware. 
And it’s not only MAKING all things, but holding ALL THINGS together.

And you don’t even know it

But becoming AWARE of it, would it cause you to want to actively participate in it? In the eucharisteō?
In Thanksgiving?

What’s the will of G-d? 
To pray incessantly, and give thanks in all things. But if the Bible is true, then by doing so, we not only SEE the GOODNESS of and in all things (as all things are created by G-d THROUGH the Word that is Jesus), but by doing so, we SANCTIFY. ALL. THINGS.

WATCH VIDEO:

The name Jesus means, “G-d IS Salvation (not “provides salvation”, IS SALVATION)” but maybe the WORD of G-d, the LOGOS, IS…THANKSGIVING.

Eucharisteō.

What if the Will of G-d IS truly to pray and give thanks, to speak Thanksgiving INTO the world. Because by doing so, you SANCTIFY it. You set apart and make holy everything you “give thanks” for.
The Holy of Holy’s was the temple, but somehow beyond just the temple. It is said to be where the presence of G-d dwelled among men.
The PRESENCE…of everything we hope of what’s to come. The Kingdom of Heaven, but in a tiny little living space.
It was the future, but here and now in the present. It was the pace where “it is finished. (telos. Lit. “COMPLETED, FULFILLED”).” A place of Goodness and Shalom. Everything is good and in its right place.
That presence, that space that is Holy and Sacred.
And there was a curtain that separated it from NOW, from HERE. Divided. Separated the holy, the sacred, the sanctified and set apart, from the obscene and the profane.
And then Jesus said on the cross, “it is finished.” And that curtain tore in two. Split asunder.
And that PRESENCE spilled out.
And that presence is now EVERYWHERE, making its way into EVERYTHING.
The Holy of Holy’s is no longer in a tiny little living space. The holy, the sacred, the sanctified and set apart is now EVERYWHERE, making its way into EVERYTHING.

The KINGDOM…has come.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done. Here and Now on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

G-d’s Will is for us to be thankful.
In all things, and for all thingsGood, bad, sacred, profane. The holy things, AND the unholy things. Because when you do, you see that there IS nothing unholy. Everything has worth. Giving thanks doesn’t GIVE worth, nor is it only for things that have worth. It REVEALS worth.

And the promise is, when you give thanks?
All things are sanctified.

Maybe that’s the meaning for this season. The meaning for Thanksgiving. And moreso, the meaning for the eucharist. Catholics consider the Eucharist, the turning bread and wine into Jesus, the “Source and Summit’’ of the faith. We consume Jesus, and join with Him. But the MEANING behind the Greek word, Eucharisteō, IS to GIVE THANKS.
It’s not just to be thankful for Christ. It’s that in doing so, we’re engaged in the sacred. And the sacred is Jesus. And the sacred is giving thanks. But there’s more.
You see, according to scripture, the WORD, the logos, is not only what makes things sacred, it holds all things together. And when we partake in the eucharist we partake of Jesus. When we partake of Jesus, we join with Him in PERFORMING the sacred.
In giving thanks for all things, we engage in creating all things. And ultimately, sanctifying all things. 
Because the Eucharist isn’t just about taking IN Jesus, consuming the Logos. It’s also about SPEAKING that Logos.
And when we do so, we engage in the sacred. And thus, not only reveal our own sacredness, but are revealed, we WITNESS the sacredness of ALL THINGS. The worthiness of ALL THINGS.

 

So to answer that question:
Who is worthy of the Kingdom of G-d?” 
ONLY the holy, the sacred, the sanctified and set apart are.

But guess what, if scripture is true, then we can set apart all things. Make them holy, and sacred.
If scripture is true, if we’re to believe it, WE have the ability to sanctify ALL THINGS.

Maybe that “Word”, the logos—that is, the MEANING, that holds all things together is, “thanks!”
Maybe…the thing that not only creates all things, sustains all things, AND..holds all things together, is gratitude
When you’ve got so much to say (the word, that is, the Logos), it’s called gratitude.

Through OUR thanksgiving, we can sanctify ALL THINGS.

And as such, ALL THINGS are—IN THANKSGIVINGWORTHY of inheriting the Kingdom of G-d.


…And THAT…sounds like “the Kingdom.
And moreso, that might just be what’s meant by the “Kingdom COME.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done. Here and now as it is in heaven.

Give thanks, see the kingdom, sanctify ALL things.

Wait a minute! There’s things here! There’s trees! There’s rocks! There’s birds! There’s squirrels! Come on! We’ll BLESS them all until we get vashnigyered!


Let’s party.

Thanks to all my patrons, parishioners, and anonymous supporters for their encouragement and support in writing and publishing this piece:
Abel
Astrid
Caleb
David
Gabe
Jess
Jen
Kelly
Manis
Mathunna
Max
Trini

Leave a comment

Filed under God stuff, Holiday, Uncategorized

What Is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…)

Easter, Rick and Morty, Warm Bodies, and Asgard.
Just What IS Love, anyway?

Sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.

The clip above is from a Rick and Morty episode where Summer works for an independent business owner, at what is basically a vintage thrift store, “selling” items that grant the purchaser their deepest desires, while also cursing them. Needful Things.
Oh, and the shop owner is the Devil.
The idea is that Mr. Needful (the Devil) gives you what you truly want (or maybe…what you think you truly want), but makes you pay a horrible price for it.

The store’s only function and purpose is to curse people. And Summer, all the while aware of what’s truly going on and who Mr. Needful, her employer, truly is, is fine with it. Because, according to her logic, “Fast Food gives people diabetes and clothing stores have sweat shops. Is there a company hiring teenagers that isn’t evil? This is my first job and you’ve been nice to me. You respect me.

Well at the end of the episode, Summer discovers she’s just another con, and the Devil really doesn’t care about her. So feeling used, angry, hurt, sad, taken advantage of, and with no way of getting back at the one who hurt inflicted all this upon her, she turns to her grandpa Rick for help.
And do what it takes to physically punish the one who has it coming to them.

And then others.

“Because sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.”

Now you might’ve been a little incensed at the language or steroid use-the content, but admit it: Didn’t part of you relish in the physical pummeling of those who “have it coming”?

Don’t you wish defeating your enemies could be a task so easy as beating them up?

Don’t you wish those enemies could suffer? Don’t you wish those that deserve it, could suffer?
Even just a little bit?

Well anyway, it’s Easter. And last time I wrote about a spiritual holiday, it ultimately posed the question, “What do we do when we don’t know the end of the story?” When all we have is the beginning—the unknown.
When all we have is new life.
And Easter kinda has that air of the end of life. Or…at least when you continue that theme of not knowing or understanding the whole story. The end of all you knew. All you hoped for.
The death of dreams.
The death of hope.
The death of connection.

The death of life.

And it’s a funny year, this year, to talk about death like this, because of all that’s going on in the world.
It kinda feels like death is all around us. Knocking at our door. And all we have been doing is walling ourselves off to the inevitable. Death.

We fight. We hate. We fear.
And we struggle. Struggle to survive. And hold on to any bit of power and control that we can.
All in a bid to stave off death for that much longer.

It really is like being in the start of one of those apocalypse films.

All of them have similar themes: a fight for survival, warding off death, and extreme “othering.”
I have to admit, I love a lot of those films. Be they post-apocalypse, like Mad Max: Fury Road, or vampire apocalypse, like Daybreakers, or zombie apocalypse, like Warm Bodies.
In fact, those are actually my three favorite for each category (let alone in general).

For those that don’t know, Warm Bodies is like a zombie apocalypse Romeo and Juliet story. In fact, the protagonist of the film is a zombie named “R”, because he doesn’t remember his name, who falls in love with one of the living named, “Julie.” (See how close they’re riffing?)

But Warm Bodies isn’t like other zombie films. Sure, zombies pose a threat, they are the undead, and they feast on the brains of the living. But in Warm Bodies, zombies seem to be a metaphor for how society already is. Factioned. Divided.
Othered.
And with many now who already go through life like the living dead.

In Warm Bodies, zombies exist in this limbo state. Undead, but not yet all gone. You see, it seems the only fate for the undead in Warm Bodies is to become “bonies.” When they give up. And lose all hope.
Apollumi

But there’s another reason Warm Bodies is a different type of zombie film. You see, in Warm Bodies, the undead can come alive. Or rather, the living dead, become the living life. More alive than those that aren’t zombies in the first place.
In Warm Bodies, the dead come back to life. And not in the “Night of the Living Dead” sense, where the dead come back as undead.
No.
In Warm Bodies, the zombies hearts start beating once again. They’re…born again. So to speak.

And the old paradigms that had sustained society: walled off cities, social division, fighting to survive, othering; all of it dies with death.

At the end of the film, R bleeds. And he becomes fully alive. And he isn’t the only one.
The film ends with a summary of what happens in the aftermath. R comments that from one perspective, getting shot in the chest hurts him, like a lot. But ultimately, for him, it felt good to bleed, to feel pain.
To feel love.
To feel.
And for the rest of the zombies, they all learned how to live again. R comments that for a while, it seemed like everyone had forgotten what that meant: to live.
And the cure? The cure to death, to bring life?
Connection.
R goes on to say how scary it was at first, painful even. But that every great thing starts out a little scary, and might even hurt to begin.
The final shot is of the massive dividing wall being destroyed, and collapsing.
No more walls. No more divisions. No more others.
All are one. In a new life. A new world.
A kingdom that’s conquered death.

This is how the world was…exhumed.”

Many see Easter as the beginning of this new world. Or just like how they see Christmas through the lens of Easter, they view Easter through the lens of their dogma about a Second Coming.
A Reckoning.
Justice.

“X gon’ give it to ya!”

And yet…all too often, they miss the bigger meaning.
Sometimes when you stare at something massive, you actually run the risk of oversimplification, and of missing the actual scope of it all. Seeing only half the picture.
And so for Easter, this new life, this new world, has turned into one that is to come. It’s removed, distant. A hope for some kingdom to come. A promise at the end of a long bridge.
A place far away from here, that death seemingly can never get to; never reach, never touch. There are those on the inside, and those on the outside. And each “deserves” what they get. “Those bad people? They had it coming. And now we’re safe away from them, and from death.” It provides comfort. Stability. Perhaps even an assurance that you did right, did good, and that you’re right where you should be. (Maybe that’s why we need others to suffer. It’s easier to see we’re the good guys then…)

But…when faced with the whole picture, well then it very often feels like all hope is dead. Because the place that you hoped in, that you kept thinking was someplace else. Behind walls. Protected. Safe.
Well now it’s threatened.

To discover the whole picture can feel like Death has infiltrated the Kingdom; infested the place. Corroded it.
It may even make you feel powerless.
Broken.

Death is too strong.
And it can make you feel like nothing.

…Maybe the Cross makes you feel that way.

I would imagine it did for those in history, on that day. To see Him up on the Cross, it may have felt like Death itself had taken Heaven and…sundered it in two.

Asgard is not a place, it never was.
It’s a people.
Heaven (or the Kingdom of Heaven) is not a place, it’s a people.
And because it’s not a place, anywhere could be Heaven.
This could be Heaven. This could be the Kingdom.
But it might just take you being broken to see it.
A Kingdom here. Now. A new type of Kingdom.
A Kingdom of Life.
A Kingdom of Love.

It’s not a place. It’s people. And it’s here now. All around you.
Do you witness Heaven? Or do you fear Hell?

You see, it’s not the pain which ruins you, it’s what you do to avoid the pain.
If you’re afraid only of breaking, let yourself be broken.
BREAK.
Let spirit crack you open to discover (living) water springing forth like it did for Moses. Discover yourself being forged.
Transformed.
And discover that living water. Discover life.
Which can only come from the rock (of your hardened heart) being broken, its wall destroyed, collapsing.

I titled this message, “What is Love?” And I have to admit, I’m still trying to sort out a definition that sits well with me. What I can say is that I find myself in agreement with lyricists of the past as to what love is not.
Love is not some victory march.”
It’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

True love is precisely this:
Forsaking the promise of eternity itself for an imperfect individual.

Love is something that breaks you.
But it’s a good break. It breaks you TO LIFE.

Jesus was broken by love.
And I think on a certain level, that is what we really needed: For someone else to pay a horrible price.
Perhaps this time away from each other, isolated and alone, is a lot like being in a tomb. But there’s the other thing Easter promises:
The stone rolls away. Walls fall.
And when that happens in your life, may it lead to so much more.
Instead of looking to break others in the name of “protecting” life, be broken.

Let love break you this Easter Sunday.

Discover life. Feel your heart beat. (Perhaps even for the first time.)

And see how glorious it is to hurt in your chest.
How good it feels to hurt, to be pained, to bleed (into one another, even).
What I mean is, see how good it is to feel love.

 

Ultimately…see how glorious it is, when everything is new.

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