Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week Disrupted?

As a general rule, Unfinished does not reflect my personal life with much transparency. My theology, yes. My political and ethical convictions, no doubt. Yet, when it comes to the more personal elements of my life, this blog is pretty much impersonal. And for good reason. Nonetheless, there is no better time than Holy Week to share news that my wife and I are expecting twins any day now- our own rendition of the resurrection. My wife and I are on edge as we wait and wonder when they will finally arrive- maybe even before I publish this post? Even more, the uncertainty of the delivery date has forced me to be somewhat withdrawn from the usual Holy Week preparation that comes with serving as a youth pastor in a large Presbyterian Church. While Holy Week is my absolute favorite season on the Christian calendar, this year my experience and engagement will be from another place, maybe even in a different place. I do not have any responsibilities on Maundy Thursday; I have been exempt from Good Friday; Holy Saturday who knows; Easter, well, we shall see. The staff has been very gracious and my colleagues extremely supportive. Nonetheless, this year the regular rhythm of Holy Week is somewhat disrupted. I can even imagine myself pondering the passion narrative or resurrection story at bedside with babies in both arms…

This raises the question, do I need Holy Week to be disrupted more often? In other words, have I become so accustomed to the ritual and pattern of the events that lead up to Easter that I have become numb to the power and prophetic push of the gospel? Has the cross and resurrection assimilated to the familiar liturgical standards and traditions that we forget the call to die and rise with Christ outside the walls of the church and in real places of oppression, real experiences of suffering, real circumstances of injustice, and sure manifestations of evil?

This past week I read through a recent issue of Christian Century and stumbled upon an article by Lauren Winner, “Dislocated Exegesis”:
Dislocated exegesis makes intuitive sense to me: where you read changes how you read. [1] Safely within the blush-colored walls of my house I might be able to keep some readings out. So I have begun an experiment: once a week, in some place where I find myself, I carve out half an hour to read one small biblical passage. I do this most often alone but sometimes with friends from school or church (14).
Winner proceeds to illustrate the various places she has practiced the discipline of dislocated exegesis: prisons, oncology units, outside corporate banks, riverbanks, awkward weddings, etc. This caused me to wonder, where could I read the narratives that are associated with Holy Week? What would it be like to read the Palm Sunday discourse outside the local courthouse in the borough of West Chester or at the base of City Hall in Philadelphia? How could one be formed and moved to faithful witness by reading the upper room narrative on a street corner in fuel view of many homeless passer-bys? And Jesus says, “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood, shed for you.” What about reading the crucifixion story, like many friends from The Simple Way have done in years past, outside the gates of Lockheed Martin or Boeing? [1] How about embracing the final chapters of any of the gospels and meditating on the resurrection in fuel view of a new born baby, in my case two, reminded that for every death in this world there is a new life? A reminder over and again that death will not have the last word, but through Jesus as Messiah, life is God’s constant and eternal word to and for the whole world.

Or better yet, what do these stories have to say for:

Survivors in Japan…
Activists in Libya…
Christians and Muslims in Egypt…
Newly Liberated in Southern Sudan..
Victims of War in Iraq…
Christians and Jews in Israel-Palestine…
Victims of Human Trafficking…
Friends in Honduras…
Young children fetching waters in Kenya…
The list could go on…

So where will you read the Scriptures this Holy Week? Maybe try a little dislocated exegesis and have your journey towards Easter encounter a sacred and sending disruption.

Notes:
[1] This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by J├╝rgen Moltmann, “Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with a full belly. If it is read in the light of the experience and hopes of the oppressed, the Bible’s revolutionary themes- promise, exodus, resurrection, and spirit- come alive” (The Church in the Power of the Spirit, 17).

[2] Read the story, “Why I Go Arrested on Good Friday,” by Shane Claiborne: http://blog.sojo.net/2009/04/21/why-i-got-arrested-on-good-friday/ 

1 comment:

  1. Great message! We all need to be shaken out of our routines and comfort zones more often than not. And what better analogy to liken the twins' births to resurrection. Praise God for insight, grace, and the miracles of those two babies!

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