Welcome to the season of Resurrection, where all things are being made new and anything is possible!
We live in a world where we seem stuck on polarization. Left or right, liberal or conservative, it’s either up with the democrats or you’re down with gop, fundamentalist or emergent, calvinist or arminian, predestination or free will, and the list just goes on. And this affects our outlook on life as well. Either everything’s great or everything’s horrible. Often we can fall toward a blind optimism or dark cynicism. If we fall to the blind optimism we turn a blind eye at the things that go wrong and it’s all just a party in the USA. We fail to take head to the negative, thus doing nothing about it, letting the negative grow. But, if we fall to cynicism then we find ourselves helpless and hopeless. We acknowledge the wrong, but have no hope of a better future thus fail to move things forward and improving little to none. Often because of our dark outlook we simply make things worse.
But, the story of resurrection, that is a different story. That is a story that faces the pain, faces evil, faces the darkness, the negative, the hurt, but continues forward. And, just when all hope seems to be lost, when the one who raised the dead is now three days in the grave and you are left with no hope, in that moment you find that the tomb is empty of bodies and filled with hope.
When we fail to acknowledge the negative we’re left with a bubble gum, pop version of hope. It’s empty, it’s shallow. But, when we can make it through Friday and hang in long enough to experience Sunday, then and only then, suffering can take on meaning. Hope can become significant, weighty, real, beautiful, true. In that moment, the moment of true resurrection, anything becomes possible and life can move forward beyond the negative toward things more beautiful than anything anyone could have possibly imagined. Easter can only come after Lent if it’s going to be something of true worth.
I hope that you have enjoyed the parables as much as I have during lent. For me this was a very specific discipline and I decided to invite others along with me (probably against my better judgment).
If you go to any bookstore and enter the Christian (which is a horrible adjective) section, you can easily notice a plethora of books about the church, what’s wrong with it, and how young adults don’t want anything to do with it. I’ve shared many of the sentiments and read many of the books. For me, I wanted to sit with some of that for a while during lent so that with Easter I could move beyond it. It was a process of letting go. On one hand, I’m really thankful for all the books because there are many within the popular christian bubble who are oblivious (or at least seem to be) to many of the issues. On the other hand, I’m kind of getting tired of hearing about all the problems and issues. In Rollins parables I found a double edged sword of personal and corporate critique packaged in a creative and thought provoking way. These stories are almost like a rorschach test, they read you more than you read them. This is why I wanted to sit with them, to challenge myself.
When I found myself in my first appointment I found myself in a strange position. I had always assumed the church did what it was supposed to do, otherwise it would be doing something different. But suddenly I was supposed to be leading a church and I didn’t know what I was supposed to be leading it to do. This crisis took me on a personal quest to try and understand for myself why the church exists, what it’s supposed to do.
I have come a long way, but along that way I’ve learned that the more answers you get the more questions you have. Therefore, while I could give you several pithy, simple answers and probably either make them all rhyme or start with the same letter (not quite good enough to make them do both yet, but here’s to future divine revelation), I won’t do that because I don’t presume to know all the answers. But, I’m inspired by the traction I’ve gotten along the way.
Lent was my opportunity to sit with these stories, work through some issues (being a preacher’s kid they are many), and move toward Easter where I can let go of the issues and move forward, beyond the complaints, toward re-imagining and re-discovering the possibilities of what can be.
I hope this has been a great experience for you as well. Welcome to Easter, where all things are being made new and anything is possible!