Tag Archives: Body of Christ

Holidays x One: Passover/Easter

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Passover and Easter have evolved into odd civic holidays that celebrate the rites of Spring, fertility, rebirth, seeds spouting, lambs being born (and eaten), eggs being decorated (and eaten), chicks and bunnies soft and squeaking in baskets, or their chocolate equivalents smearing across tiny faces. Why odd?

Well even though at Christmas the birth of Christ and arrival of Santa Claus have no connection, there’s the giving of a gift that affords it some type of universal credence. But the Easter Bunny has no connection whatsoever to slavery, deliverance, death and resurrection.

Passover commemorates the release of the Jewish slaves from captivity in Egypt. The story is rich with plagues, a secret prince (Moses), murder and miracles, the parting of the Red Sea, the visit of the first-born sons by the angel of death. The key ingredient at the Seder table is unleavened bread representing their hurried departure.
Easter commemorates the betrayal of Jesus Christ, who claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God, his trials, crucifixion, death, burial. Then his resurrection. The key ingredient is the wine and bread representing the spilt blood and pierced flesh of Christ. No chocolate bunnies in sight.

Digging deeper, both celebrations invite us to remember what is gone and to wait for deliverance.

Remembering can be hard for the person who is alone. I lived for years with a busy houseful of children, step-children, “adopted” children and friends of children. It was expansive and fun within those four walls. The phone rang constantly, events, meals, cars coming and going, birthdays, graduations, new jobs, lost jobs. I used to tell them, “If you have a crisis you have about three weeks to milk it because by then another will come along.”

Remembering and re-living that season of my life is a struggle. I look at pictures and sigh. I wonder how all those folks are doing, grown with their own homes, their own families, work and accomplishments. It’s weird to go all day without a phone call, not to be making a costume, a decoration, a huge dinner or even a dessert. I sometimes look up their Facebook pages even if I’m not a friend, just to see their smiles.

Maybe a better way is to remember with joy and be grateful for having that time of life at all. One that many would have given anything to have had. Think back to your favorite Easter memories–was it hiding eggs as a child – or finding them? Was it brand new patent leather shoes at any age? Spring break in college? Surrounding a church pulpit with dozens of lilies? Cutting off a piece of crusty, salty lamb fat and popping it in your mouth with a juicy sliver of meat?

Waiting for change is an even greater challenge, even if it’s not deliverance from bondage or rising from the dead. The change we think will never get here. The check that’s in the mail. The escrow taking forever to close. The vacation that we’ve been putting off year after year. The retirement that we keep pushing back.

Often it’s the waiting that brings about more change than the actual receiving of what you are waiting to happen. Waiting strengthens us, even when it’s hard. But sometimes what comes after is just plain miraculous.

That’s worth remembering.

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It’s Become Shameful to Receive

On the Receiving End – Chapter 38

     How do I go about asking for help?  I had never heard a sermon titled, “10 Tips for Asking Your Neighbor to Do Something for You,” or “Ask and You Shall Receive…From Your Friend in the Next Pew,” or “Be a Receiver…It’s What God Expects of You.” Never had the plate been passed full of money and people invited to take money out if they needed it. Even our culture has preached, “’Tis better to give than to receive,” even though that may be a Christmas slogan drilled into Americans since the Sears & Roebuck catalog was carried across the wide prairies of the frontier. The church has never taught believers how to receive.

     Well, not never. When Paul the Apostle took Jesus seriously about taking the news that a savior had come to all corners of the earth, pockets of believers banded together throughout the known world. They were so overjoyed to feel the security of everlasting life and a God who forgave them that these early followers sold their goods, held things in common and met every day for a meal and prayer. Not everyone was a giver, but EVERYONE was a receiver.

     Later Paul explained that believers can behave and interact like a body – some are hands, some are feet, some are hearts, some are heads. All are needed and the giving and receiving is in balance in the Kingdom of God. Even then, a hierarchy was developing that decided the left brain was the body part that was top dog.

     So that by the time it came to post-WWII 1950s Southern California where I grew up, learning to lead and serve became the mission of the church. Men were to lead; women to serve, and we made idols out of Major Donors and it was a sign of weakness to be in need, possibly the result of sin. Being on the receiving end became a cause for deep shame.

     So the church began to separate the givers from the receivers. The receivers got farther and farther away. Naked tribes in Africa, starving children in China who wished they could eat our brussel sprouts, Mexican orphans living at the city dump and the weirdest, farthest away receiver of all – an unborn fetus. Could any giving be less balanced than that? In the meantime, Bibles were smuggled behind the Iron Curtain and banned from our own school districts.

     This gulf of separation between the givers and receivers has created a distortion of the Kingdom of God. So pronounced is the belief that God loves the giver more than the receiver that it’s common now to hear that a life with Christ will result in prosperity, high status, political dominance, expensive clothes and hot cars. Christians in need can ask of God, but not so much their Sunday School class. 

     How was I supposed to find a “sitter” for Mike?

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