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March 28, 2013

I’ll admit it.  I didn’t read this month’s Transit Lounge Book club’s book.  I have never been able to make it past John Howard Yoder’s first two pages of The Politics of Jesus.  I don’t feel intelligent enough to read it.  However, I’ve enjoyed  reading the responses to the book–from the responses (like this one), I’m learning it’s the basis of my high school and college Bible classes. He’s a classic Mennonite author–one of the BIG ONES, in the Mennonite world.  Yet, I can’t read him.  It seems fitting that people are linking up today to share their response, on this Maundy Thursday,

Our family celebrated Maundy Thursday yesterday with a Christian Passover meal (in that we had flour and we had dairy/meat in the same meal).  However, most of the symbols were present–horseradish to remind us of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt, salt water to remind us of the tears, the lamb bone to remind us of the blood over the doorposts and how God passed over the Israelites in the taking of the first born.  We talked about our shared history with Jews and where that history split.

We talked about why the Passover was important to us, for Christians.  It was Jesus’s last meal with his disciples and the basis of communion.

Then I stopped telling the story.

It was only today that I realized that Maundy Thursday extends beyond the Last Supper and Footwashing.  Maundy Thursday brings us back to the Garden–Gethsemane this time, not Eden.  Jesus is denied by his disciples.  Some flee.  Peter cuts off the centurion’s ear.  There’s a great deal of praying occurring and Jesus wonders, does he really have to do this?

Maundy Thursday is one of the greatest reasons I believe in active nonviolence (the new term for pacifism).  Jesus preached love over and over during his life, but it was on Thursday that he lived out his active nonviolence.   Not only did he not fight his way out (and he could have, being God’s son and all), he healed the man who lost his ear and reprimanded Peter.

Madeleine’s asked me several times during the past week, “Why don’t Jews believe in Jesus?”  We have Jewish neighbors and the children have Jewish classmates at school–both of which are practicing Jews.  We’ve talked about what we have in common.  However, in her stage of development, someone needs to be right and someone needs to be wrong.  She’s said as much.  We’ve talked about appropriate and inappropriate questions to ask when a parent comes next week for a cultural enrichment activity on Purim and Passover.    “Why don’t you believe in Jesus?” we’ve decided is appropriate to ask in person but not necessarily in front of the class.

I’ve tried to explain how I understand it–Jesus didn’t fit the mold the Jews had for the Messiah.  The Messiah was supposed to redeem them from the Roman oppression and restore to them all the land promised to them by God via Moses.  Jesus was a prophet and a good man, just not the Messiah.  That’s why Jesus’s response on Maundy Thursday is so important to Christians.  The way I understand it, God’s way is not to fight your way out of a situation, but to act in love.

I’ve struggled over the years about active nonviolence in all situations.  I’ve relaxed a bit since high school, when I was unsure of anyone involved with the military.  As with so many other things, I’ve learned things aren’t black and white, like they still are in Madeleine’s eyes.  WWII always comes up in the conversation of nonviolence and I have no answers for that.  People always pressure me with the question of “What if someone attacked your family?”

I just know Jesus’s response.  As with everything else, it was all about love.  It’s always all about love.  Love is not hurting people, even when your life is at risk.  Jesus didn’t live in any easier time than we did–he loved in a much harder time, especially harder for women and children.  Over and over he preached love.  And on Maundy Thursday, he lived out that love in many different ways.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rickman Cubed permalink
    April 10, 2013 11:21 pm

    Thanks for the mention. I come at non-violence from another place. I grew up in a church that happily celebrated Memorial Day and July 4th with glowing prayers about the sacrifices of the American soldier. Yet something about this seemed confusing. Yet years of seeing and experiencing the horrors of violence have left me less and less willing to see any good within it.

    As to the issue of our friends, one of my professors often asked why his students that discovered his pacifism showed such a bloodlust for his family. This seems to me a corruption of manliness Christianity. I am not a man because I would defend my family and kill all who would harm them. I am a man because I would gladly give my life for theirs.

    As to WWII, I cede to a somewhat modified form of Just War Theory with a preference for peace, and a strong bent towards the war act being a last last resort performed with a vastly limited scope.

    Last let me say this: let no book say it’s better than you. Reading is a muscle. We must work out our minds. Just as at the gym you would not start lifting weights at the highest setting so it is with words. You must begin at the setting you can handle and over the weeks, months, and years gradually rise to higher settings. If you stay true to the program and continually challenge yourself to go a step higher every so often, you will look back amazed at what setting you started and where you stand in a week, month, or year.

    God bless and keep reading…

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