Thursday, April 05, 2012

Journeying with Judas and Jesus ...

I've always wondered what was going through Jesus' mind in the hours leading up to what we call "The Last Supper."

Given the events that unfold in the hours following ... the abandonment ... the loneliness ... the suffering ... the pain ... the rejection ... and then finally the dying ... I wonder what rolled through Jesus' heart and mind as he prepared himself for what was ahead.

To me, the coming events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the long wait through Saturday until the breaking of dawn on Easter Sunday are remarkable opportunities to reflect on the breadth and depth of life, and what it offers.

Today I think about the morning, a year after the fire in Minnedosa when I began the Worship Service, a service held in the borrowed sanctuary of the local Catholic congregation who had graciously and lovingly welcomed us in. On the table before the assembled congregation was a picture of the old Building we had lost, an a small assortment of items salvaged from the ashes a year earlier ... I greeted the congregation with the words:

"It's been a helluva year hasn't it?!?"

In that moment I became a Judas that needed to be removed from the midst of the 'good and faithful people' to maintain the peace ... some couldn't handle their Preacher uttering a curse word - offering it in the Sanctuary made it an unpardonable sin in their opinion ... and so the machinations to remove me began to grind forward in earnest that day ... and the end result was being cast out like Judas from the community of the "faithful".

Looking back, I have no regrets on my choice of language. I uttered a truth in the language I had heard day in and day out throughout our community. I've long chosen to speak the language I grew up speaking and not to wrap myself in an uncomfortable and insincere veil that says "Gosh" or "Golly" when my conscience is shouting out OTHER words.

I do guard my tongue and only swear like a sailor when I am in a relatively 'safe' place. But I DO swear and I can probably make a sailor blush, especially when he would consider my role as Pastor or Padre.

Having said that, my remembrance of that day not that long ago comes to mind as I consider the profound and debilitating abandonment that we are about to commemorate in the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday ... when I was formally removed from the Covenant of Ministry with Minnedosa, I truly became a person non gratia in the United Church of Western Manitoba ... I was offered only a couple of opportunities to engage in pulpit supply while I had no means of full time employment to keep food on my table ... and the reaction of folks who for nine previous years has been considered friends through the various Church Courts was appalling at the best, pathetic at worse.

Have you ever been walking through a mall and up a head see someone you have sat in a Presbytery meeting for NINE YEARS, only to see them recognize you and DIVE into the nearest store to avoid you?

Or when you make eye contact and smile and greet them, have your friendliness met only with a stony glare and the obvious turning of their head and gaze away from you?

The only thing worse than that Judas moment, was the complete denial of it happening by the colleagues in ministries who dared to speak with you ... they would helpfully suggest that I 'let it go' and 'move on' and they would out and out deny that anyone would do such things ...

The rejection was complete ... I had become a Judas who dared to BETRAY Jesus and his Church, and I was to be treated accordingly ...

I have mused elsewhere about my thoughts about Judas. I echo the sentiment of William Klassen, a Mennonite trained pastor and professor who in time meandered his way to the United Church of Canada, and who has authored several very tight scholarly works that revisit and revision Judas' role in the life and ministry of Jesus and in the early Church.

In short - Judas is NOT the villan we make him out to be.

Today as I break bread and pour out the cup in worship to mark the events of Maundy Thursday and to begin the dark shadowy journey into the coming days, I will be acutely reminded of the storm of feelings and experiences that come in this Holy Time.

I've lived the sting of abandonment.

I've endured the pain of rejection.

I've had my life and ministry torn apart and left in tatters on the floor.

I know first hand what the Church is capable of, and give thanks that in the modern era physical torture and suffering unto death is not an option for the righteous Inquisitors.

This Easter as I stand before my Congregation I will say inwardly "It's been a HELLUVA journey hasn't it?" when I proclaim the eternal message - HE IS RISEN!!!

The dark shadowy places and the lingering presence of suffering and death have never frightened me ... instead, during this Holy journey into the events of the week, what frightens me is the ability of the Church to repeatedly reenact the events of Holy Week without realizing that instead of following the footsteps of Jesus, we often follow the footsteps of those who abandoned, rejected, and condemned Jesus and Judas.

That failure to see what is really happening is both sad and shocking ... but fortunately, despite our propensity to follow the WRONG path, God will still offer the transformative power of the Resurrection to those who need it ...

Today, perhaps for the first time in almost 7 years, I approach Holy Week knowing first hand the power of the Resurrection in my life ... there are still shadows and dark corners lurking, but the sting of rejection and the hypocrisy I've experienced has faded away ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shawn, I have often wondered who spearheaded the move to get rid of you in Minnedosa.