We Are Loved Unto Death

grave

When I was training to be a pastor, I spent a summer working as a hospital chaplain in a CPE program. CPE stands for Clinical Pastoral Education. It teaches skills for ministry that are used in hospitals and hospice programs, and it provides a learning community where all participants collectively explore the ways their life journeys have shaped them with strengths and growing edges. It is a valuable experience.

During one of our early CPE group sessions, we had an opportunity to tell our life stories and the ways that faith has shaped us. In the midst of telling these stories, one of my cohort members spoke a sentence that intrigued me. I found it to be quite beautiful. As she described a conversion experience, she said, “On that day, I adopted the Christian narrative to myself.” Years later, I do not want to assume all that she meant in that sentence, but I interpreted her words mean that as she received this story, she added her decision to let this Christian narrative mark her life.

I love that sentence:
Today, I adopt the Christian narrative to myself. 

Today is the grief-filled Saturday of the Christian narrative. After hearing the horrific details of Jesus’ death on Friday and experiencing injustice and loss collectively, we now sit with that traumatic reality on this Saturday. We sit in grief with an unexpected tomb – not one unexpectedly empty, for we cannot anticipate that reality. We sit with the trauma of a tomb that unexpectedly holds the lifeless body of the person who embodied love beyond our imagining. As the disciples did so many years ago, we sit with the fear that this love might also be dead and lifeless.

Today, I adopt the Christian narrative to myself.
As I receive this loss,
As I know real pains and losses in the experiences of real human lives,
I add my decision to let this Christian narrative mark my life.

The narrative of this day tells us something powerful. Christians say that Jesus is truly the presence of God in human form. In this sacred narrative, when Jesus experiences trauma and death, God enters death with humanity. God dies.

For some, it might seem controversial to say that God died, and
For some, it might seem illogical to assume a God exists
who could even live or die like we do,
but –
however we understand it,
however it offends us, or
however it confounds us,
this narrative says that love incarnate entered death with us.

Today, I adopt the Christian narrative to myself.
Today, I choose to add my love to losses of the world.
Today, may we all add our love to the grief and unexpected tombs of others.

Renee Roederer

 

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