Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we come to the beginning of Holy Week, I want to share some quotes from the book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Father Richard Rohr.
“Life is inherently tragic… The genius of the Biblical revelation is that it refuses to deny the dark side of things, but forgives failure and integrates falling to achieve its only promised wholeness.”
This past week there was another school shooting in Maryland. The mad bomber in Austin, Texas blew himself up when he was about to be arrested. Several young men were shot in the Vista. The opioid addiction continues to plague our nation of people who will use even the most dangerous of drugs to escape their pain. In the Cross Jesus invites us not to escape from experiences of darkness and suffering but to trust that God is with us in and through them all.
“Jesus is never upset at sinners, (check it out); he is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners. Jesus was fully at home with this tragic sense of life. He lived and rose inside it.”
When I think about these words, it seems that much of organized religion seeks to escape or avoid our human sin and brokenness. Sometimes we do this by saying, “well I have my faults, but at least I am not as bad as most people I know.” Or “going to church regularly makes me better than others.”
A significant part of the passion story is when Jesus predicts that one of his disciples will betray him. That begins a chorus of those asking, “Is it I Lord?” The irony is Peter who wound up betraying Jesus was the only one of the twelve who didn’t ask “Is it I Lord?”, but instead swore he would never do such a thing. Whatever else we encounter in the Passion Story, Holy Week brings with it our need to ask the same question, “Is it I Lord? Is it I Lord who will betray you?”
“Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”
The incredible good news of Christ’s resurrection is that the power of sin, death and evil did not have the last word, and it never will. No school shootings, no desperate acts of violence, no powerful addictions, no broken relationships in homes and families, no political infighting, no unfair illnesses, nor anything else can change what Jesus has accomplished through the cross. God’s forgiving love in Jesus Christ brings us new life and new beginnings in spite of the tragic dark realities that we encounter.
Our South Carolina Synod Staff who has gone through our own experiences of suffering and darkness this past year extends to you our loving prayers and blessings on this Holy Week and Easter. We pray that you will encounter anew the Risen Lord and Savior who speaks words of forgiveness, peace and new life into our hurting, broken and messy lives.
The Rev. Ginny Aebischer
The Rev. Eric Wolf
The Rev. Ozzie Herlong
The Rev. Rick Carter
Neal F. Fischer