Tis’ the season to be melancholy, the time when we, Christians, remember that we are members of Christ’s dying body.
During the Lenten season, we join in Jesus’ suffering and bear witness to an American society that sells us generalized, one-size-fits-all numbness.
The salesclerk says, “It looks good on you. It’s your color. You’ve worked hard. You deserve it.”
She says whatever is selling. But we all look the same — sad but told to keep going. Keep getting up in the morning. Keep working until late at night so that you can keep shopping.
Because the price is always right — and when we want to feel good, though the world has gone bad, we don’t care what it costs. Because you can’t put a price on (fill in the blank).
We exchange our feelings for stuff. We stuff our feelings, stuff our faces, stuff it all down into places it doesn’t belong. We just need more bags of stuff.
Another satisfied customer, we go home and pile it up into overcrowded closets with more skeletons than hangers. Because we can throw nothing away.
We can have it all. Hoarding, we need it all. Ironically, we are now surrounded by feelings that we can’t get in touch with.
Of course, we can’t feel our faces and there’s a tingling sensation in our fingers. Why is this happening? We are trying to find the words but can’t put our finger on it. We know we have it around here somewhere. We just need to feel for it.
This is the time to get in touch with our feelings. And who better to imitate than the Word made flesh?
Jesus is a feeling word. God in the flesh, Jesus is God face-to-face, the God who can relate to all that is human, especially suffering.
Do you feel the heaviness of the cross you are bearing? The cross, it is the only tool of the trade we call discipleship, the only thing required on this school supply list.
Matthew is taking notes and jots down, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NRSV).
After you Jesus, we follow in his footsteps, accepting that all roads lead to Calvary. We commit to follow Jesus to the death.
We know where Jesus is going. It’s why we follow in his footsteps, right? We want to be like him, that is Christ-like.
We know where this is headed. Why, then, do some of his disciples wander aimlessly and find themselves in places Jesus wouldn’t be caught dead in?
We are supposed to travel light. “Take nothing with you” (Luke 9:3). But I’ve gotten more baggage from the church than any other place I’ve ever been.
Some say, “Hurt people hurt people.” Or “If being hurt by the church caused you to lose your faith in God, then your faith wasn’t in God.”
Neither of these responses feel right to me. They don’t help me “lay my burden down.” Instead, as I am writing this, I feel inspired to take a shopping spree. I just want to stuff it all down.
I don’t know where the church in North America is going or what to do with the suffering it is causing. But I am following Jesus and it feels like I need to let it out.
And if you have been hurt by the church, then I invite you to scream and shout. Resist the temptation to go numb.
This is not a cross to bear. This is not a part of our faith journey. This is not what Jesus would do. Instead, when something wasn’t right or wasn’t adding up, Jesus spoke up and rearranged furniture in the synagogue if he had to.
There is too much suffering in the world to deny the pain that we are all experiencing. So, for Lent, give up the façade and get all in your feelings.