Sunday, March 27, 2016

God's Middle Finger

So, today is Easter. You know what I think of when I think of Easter?

I think Easter is God’s middle finger to all the forces in the world that want to destroy us.

Now, let me explain.

Jesus was a backwoods carpenter turned religious teacher who lived under occupation. That is, he lived under the Roman Empire, lived in deep poverty, and lived in a time where everyone was wondering if there was any way out.

And he preached a different kind of world, a different kingdom, he called it. He hung out with all the wrong sorts of people, according to the religious leaders—sex workers and hustlers, fisherfolk and farm workers, and all the wrong sorts. Beyond that, he was one of them; couch surfing during most of his ministry, sometimes homeless.

For three years, he built a movement, as hundreds and maybe thousands of poor people dreamed with him of a better world. Of a world where everyone had enough, where no one was hungry, where all were healed and whole. And, just one week before Easter, he marched with those people into the capital city of Jerusalem, announcing a new movement, announcing a new kingdom. He marched into the temple, and threw out the business owners who were making a profit off of people’s poverty, and declared a new kingdom.

And he was a threat. The religious leaders and the political leaders of the city realized that he was a threat to their power. He had masses of people behind him, so they waited until he was mostly alone, sleeping outside in a garden park. One of his closest friends betrayed him by narking to the temple cops where he was staying. He was arrested and his followers ran for their lives. He stood trial and was sentenced to be executed by crucifixion.

It seemed, at that moment, that the Empire had won. That Jesus’ movement was over. That the kingdom he preached about would never come. That the poor would never have enough, that the hungry would stay hungry. That despair was going to win.

And then we have this strange story of resurrection. And that resurrection ignites a huge movement. Jesus’ movement continues after all.

You want to know what I think? I think this story of the resurrection is God giving the middle finger to the empires who think that they can destroy us. Its God’s middle finger.

God says; “You think you can stop my kingdom? You think you can arrest and kill anyone you want? You think you can continue to keep people in grinding poverty without any hope? I don't think so.”

That’s why I like Easter. Because, here on the Harbor, we are surrounded by despair. There is never enough. Too many of us die way too soon. No jobs, not enough housing, the Harvards closing, an 18 year old who die too soon, a dying town. So many of our folks in and out of jail—for charging a cell phone in the park, on DOC forever and ever, and on and on the list goes. You can do everything right and still get screwed. You can do everything wrong and here you are, still screwed. And no one does anything about it. And we wonder if anything CAN be done about it.

So many of us mourn the deaths of our friends, our sons and daughters, our coworkers.

So, every once in awhile, I like to think of Easter as God’s middle finger to all of this needless death and suffering.

Some hope that another world is possible. Some hope that all those women and men who marched into Jerusalem that day, demanding a better kingdom, a better life were building power that could not be stopped. Some hope that death is not the end. Some hope that a new life is possible.

I always say I am more of a Good Friday person than an Easter person. I’ve had enough shit in my life, enough loss, enough pain, that I can appreciate what it means to have a God who suffers with me. Easter is always harder, because there have been too many times in my life when I have wanted something better so bad that it hurt, and yet nothing changed.

But, still, Easter reminds me to hope. Reminds me that all the pain is not the end. That new life comes, if only we fight for it, together.

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