Sitting on Good Friday

I wasn’t there Good Friday

But I’ve planted a garden almost every year
despite the fact, my thumb is black, and nothing will ever grow

I have sat alone in middle school, at the lunch table, at the classroom
Being told to shut up every time I’ve spoken, isolated and alone

I have left a room
only to realize later that I participated in White Supremacy–
Leaving a Person of Color to fend for themselves

And I have participated in politics that have lead to people having to leave
or find solace, because they were so hurt by what happened

I have cried Hosanna! after Massive Gun Violence And Gender Violence
So many times–with phone calls, votes and letters

Again, and again, and again

I wasn’t there on Good Friday
But I have been abandoned or done the Abandoning

Jesus, I picture you
starting your descent into hell
with the words “My God, My God, Why have you abandoned me”

I wasn’t there that Good Friday–
Almost no one was–
Yet that was the point

Patriarchy, All the bad things…seemed to be winning

I wasn’t there Good Friday,
But I have felt those pieces of Hell, the utter loneliness
the failure
I have heard the devil whispering to me

that I’m too different
that my voice doesn’t matter
that peace won’t win

that my betrayals are bigger than my good works

that THAT scene, the one on replay in my head? Everyone remembers that one about me

I don’t know how Jesus utterly cut off from Love
in Hell

But I know all humans feel that at some point;
so I know you did it Jesus

You walked into Hell…
so we wouldn’t be alone there anymore

To remind us that Nothing
no height, no death,
nor hell
can cut us off from the love of Jesus Christ

I wasn’t there Good Friday..But you were,
Un-abandoning us
Sitting with us
We can’t see you or hear you in the dark

But thanks for being there
with me when the seeds won’t grow,
at the lonesome lunch table
Or in the Aftermath

And it’s ok to sit in the dark for awhile

Feel free to adapt/share/use with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Senator Jones in the foreground Rep Pearson in the background in a black suit—both with their fists raised after the two young, black men were expelled from Tennessee House for partying peaceful anti-gun demonstrations, the white woman senator was allowed to remain

#Ruth #rejected SermonTitles Let’s talk about #hell (practical applications)

My very savvy 7 year old asked me today what Hell was.

Can I just say that a. I’m glad he asked me b. I’m glad he didn’t have a concept yet

Because, I’m a Pastor and I’m always a little afraid of what is seeping into my child’s brain theologically

I have no doubt this query was prompted by The Corpse Bride.

Halloween is great, and I mean it. Its a way to conceptionalize and deal with fears of death and Hell.

Deep Theology going on.

I have a working concept of Hell.

Its like a hypothesis–in theory this concept has withstood my theological understanding and it works for me to understand life, the universe and everything

Its like a practical application concept. (By the way that’s what theology is…its a working concept of how you apply your faith/beliefs)

The Bible is mostly unclear about what Hell is. When mentioned in the Bible it often carries with it whatever the local culture thinks is the underworld.

My working concept of Hell is that it is that deepest darkest place in existence that has no love.

Not a shred.

Because to me, that is the most horrific concept ever….

And though God promises to be with us, no matter where we are–When we descend to Sheol, God promises to be with us, this does not mean we are able to feel God’s presence/love while we are there. (Romans 8)

When Jesus Christ goes to Hell, when he cries out “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me” I believe that Jesus Christ experiences the lonely heart-wrenching existence of no love.

No God.

The hows and the whys of Jesus Christ not being with God and Love when His very self is God and Love escape me, but the definition works for me. Because we all have times in our lives when we feel unloved.

When we feel alone, unloved, unlovely and unable to love.

““Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” ” Ruth 1:19-21

Naomi feels this, she says, call me Mara, bitter. I exist in a place with no love.

Even if we aren’t actually alone or unloved.

These places and times are Hell for us. A visit into what happens when God is completely ignored and unaccepted in our lives.

On the other hand, it means that those who love, have seen the face of God.

Those who love experience joy and pleasure and beauty and understanding.

In this way, I believe that whether Hell is a physical place or not, it exists.

(For me it was Jr. High, when I hadn’t really any friends was horribly socially awkward, and for a while a group of bullies told me to shut up every time I spoke or laughed)

Have you experienced Hell?

It makes sense then the contrast of Hell is Heaven, a place of love, a place of family, a place of hope.

How many times have poets compared love to Heaven?

Love exists too, and if we are bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth, then we will be like Ruth. Following Naomi, loving her even when she can’t accept that love.

There are times in our lives when we are loved, and we can’t feel it. The entire stage of teenage-hood comes to mind. Where we are loved, but we feel like no one cares.

The important thing about love, though, is that its different from “fixing someone.” Because fixing someone isn’t permanent, but love can go on and on.

Those of us who are married know that no one is perfect, and we can’t fix them forever, that doesn’t actually happen, but we can still love them. I would argue that loving someone is the opposite of fixing them. Its going where they go, experiencing what they experience, and keeping with them.

Too often at church we forget and try to fix people. Often we can’t fix someone, or the fix is temporary or we don’t know how to fix them. We can however, love them. We can experience life with them and build the family of God. We can make sure no one gets left behind, or forgotten, and call one another brother and sister.

That’s why we do this church thing, so we can be together in Christ.

Mark 3:33-35
And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’


Thanks to Chuck Goodman for the Ohana Lilo and Stitch reference