(This post is a copy from the Lenten Journey website. I wrote with a number of other pastors during the season of Lent, 2011. Each day, we reflected on one passage from the Daily Office. It's best to read the passage before the reflection.)
March 18, 2011 - Solidarity in Christ
Jeremy D. Scott
We are walking in the path of Christ, through the cross and out of the tomb alike.
This is one of the great reminders of the season of Lent. While our hope is found in the Risen Christ - a hope that we celebrate every Sunday (even during Lent!) - the intentionality of Lent causes us to remember and own the path upon which Christ walked on his way to overcoming death.
This may be a surprise to some of us who, whether told explicitly or not, heard that Jesus would solve all our problems. In times when it is difficult to reconcile the joy of salvation in Christ with the often difficult moments or days that occur despite knowing him, we sometimes might be left wondering what we’re doing wrong. After all, if we know Christ, we should know no pain, right? And in these moments, it’s easy to question whether we’re in Christ or not. Indeed, as Hebrews purports, we might often feel left “naked and laid bare” for God and the whole world to see.
Yet this surprise can turn into relief. It’s when we find that the pain of our lives actually does identify with the pain and suffering of Christ that we can truly begin to understand what it means to be “in Christ.” The cross becomes much different than a beautifully-polished image of warm feelings, and instead a roughly-made stick of solidarity. We remember that Christ himself was left “naked and left bare,” exposed for all the world to see.
And in this solidarity...
- ...solidarity with a Savior, who prior to rising victorious out of the tomb, was ignored, betrayed, and denied by his loved ones.
- ...solidarity with a Son, who wrestled with the cup he was to inherit from his Father.
- ...solidarity with a Servant, who in the deepest of pains, was left crying out loud, “God, where are you?”
...we actually find hope.
I recently saw a short video interview with popular human emotion researcher, Brene Brown*. She talked about her return to the Church. She remembers going back to church in hopes of a cure-all or epidural, as a way to cover up or even remove the pain of life. But instead, she found that this just isn’t how Christ comes to us. Faith in Christ is much different than self-help or dumbing of pain. Rather, Brown concludes that the faith of Christ’s Church is much more like a midwife than it is an epidural. We’re brought through the pain.
And knowing that Christ himself “was there” is a relief. Indeed, “we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are.” And again, indeed: “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Lord, as I walk today in the path of the cross of Christ, in your mercy, grant both the strength and the hope of victory of the One who walked it before me.
* Epidural vs Midwife, Altar Video Magazine, accessed here.