"Having a blog is like wandering around your house naked with the windows open; it's all very liberating until someone looks in the window. However, while being caught unawares is one thing, it is quite another to stroll up to the window and press your naked, flabby body against the coolness of the glass in a hideous form of vertical prostration for all the world to see..." These posts are the smudges that are left behind on the window.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Magic of Good Friday

It was sunny when you first joined the line in the Outer Court, but you've finally made it inside the temple just as it clouded over.  The crowds, the noise, the heat, dodging the endless processions of criminals going to Golgotha has made for a very long day. You've come to offer your sacrifice to the priest, and on the far side of the room you see The Curtain. The curtain is there for your benefit, it shields you from the holiness of your God who lives on the other side - the God who has chosen you and your people, set you apart, protected you, guided you, provided for your every need. The God who will one day set you free, vindicating you before all nations, and declaring you righteous. Then ... a vibration, ever so slight at first, felt only in the soles of your feet. It continues to strengthen until you need to reach out for something, anything, to maintain your balance. The noise builds with it. The sound of falling stones offends your ears. Panic sets in. Then you hear it: A sound you can't quite place. It starts off softly, quickly intensifying, until your sure it's going to violate your very soul. It's close.

Very close.

You first catch sight of it out of the corner of your eye. The Curtain. The curtain is torn wide open - from top to bottom. Instinctively you look away. You've been told your whole life that if you could see behind the curtain you'd be blinded, if not killed. But you can't help yourself. You steal a quick look, hoping it's fast enough you don't get caught. Before you know it you're on your knees in debilitating disbelief, and your stomach is trying to leave your body through your mouth. What you see behind the curtain is ... nothing: No searing light, no chorus of angels, no heavenly presence on a throne - nothing but a slightly raised section of floor and an incense burner. Like a magician pulls the curtain aside to reveal the empty box where his beautiful assistant once stood, your god is gone.

Or was he ever there?

The traditional explanation for the curtain tearing says it's God's way of showing there's no longer any separation between God and man; we are free to approach God without a mediator. But Peter Rollins and Jay Bakker have another take. Jay explains it like this. What if the point of tearing the curtain in two was to expose the fact that there's nothing there, and never was: that any illusion we've created about God is just that - an illusion. Once faced with the fallacy of this god, the question then becomes, which god are we going to believe in. Maybe destroying the curtain was to show the god of the good parking space, the miraculous healing, the lid for every pot, the hedge of protection - the god we've so carefully created in our image - doesn't exist. But the God of self sacrificing love does. He's the one hanging on the cross.

He's the one to follow.

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