Monday, April 2, 2007
Uncovering Luthor's dung Heap.
As the result of the whole family having a real killer of a virus, I went to mass by myself this past Palm Sunday and had gift of sitting thru mass without the usual interruptions that come with small children (of course these interruptions are much more efficaious oppurties for grace!) .
The palm sunday liturgy is always one of my favorites. Its like that final build up in an orchestra peice that lets you know the climax is about to begin. Its richness, the palms, the incense, the holy water, and most of all the Gospel of Luke acted out as a drama, are all beckoning us to begin the final stage of Christ's life during Holy Week.
One passage in the Gospel struck me in particular. It is in Christ's speech to the weeping women.
"For behold the days shall come wherin they shall say, "Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. They shall then begin to say to the mountains, Fall upon us, and to the hills: Cover us. For if in the green wood they do these things what shall be done in the dry? "
Sobering thoughts. Christ is reminding us on his trail to Calvary that we will share in his suffering. "in the misdst of life we are in death." These words from an eleventh century Lenten chant also remind us of this. But the answer is not depair. It is not that Christ simply covered up all that death with a white blanket of snow--as Luther would have us beleive, so that God no longer looks on our sinfulness. This is indeed a depairing Christianity.
It is not a covering up -rather it is a tranformation. Christ took on a human body and human nature and in humility joined our race. Humility -in another book I was reading of late I ran across the root meaning of the word humility: hummus. Compost, or rotting-decomposed-matter. How odd, I thought, that Luther should try and think of us as dung heaps covered by snow. That Christ, covers up the ugliness. How far from the truth. Rather it is in our very rottedness, that we are transformed. This is our call to humility. Therin is the mystery. That just as the scraps from my kitchen, the manure from a horse, and a pile of leaves are transformed into a hummus, a soil that is life-giving, so our souls in Christ are transformed. Christ does not cover up our sinfulness, he transforms it. He takes it and "makes all things new."
Just as my compost enriches and feeds my garden and becomes frutiful plants--so we too can be transformed thanks to the blood that is spilled out with such love today.