Waiting For Easter: A Eulogy For Jesus

grief-loss-God


Someone recently said that I seem angry lately, that I’ve become decidedly negative, my demeanor abrasive and combative.

For a split second I thought that he might be right, but realized almost immediately what was happening. He had indeed recognized my symptoms accurately; it was the cause that he didn’t or couldn’t understand because it’s the kind of thing you can’t easily tell from a distance.

My well-meaning friend didn’t realize that he was dealing with someone grieving deeply.

Anger and grief look a lot alike from the outside. They both feel similar when you’re on the receiving end.

That’s what’s been going on here in my heart for a long time—a grieving.

That’s what this faith walk has felt like lately: a funeral for a friend.

I and so many others like me are mourning a tremendous loss, one so profound and so disorienting that it’s altering the very eyes with which we see the world, and the way we think and talk and live and pray.

We are Christians, looking around and facing the most horrible of realities:

It feels like Jesus is dead.

He is dead to a modern Christianity that so very often seems fully content to call itself that, without the slightest trace of Christlikeness.

He’s dead to a faith that’s gone to bed with politics, shacked up with power, had a wild fling with materialism; one that’s given birth to something so very unlike him, yet named after him.

What passes as Christianity here in America often bears no resemblance to the humble, gentle Nazarene rabbi, who came armed with no cash, no building campaign, no megachurch, no lobbyists, and no army; only the greatest of good news on the planet, and an extravagant heart bursting open for every weary soul that crossed his path.

That, and a call for those who would follow him to die to self.

When I look around at the faith so often proposing to be Christianity these days, that Jesus seems gone.

He is dead and buried, replaced by doom-forecasting celebrity preachers, venom-spewing reality TV stars, and some the most violent, hateful bigotry on the planet, disguised as religion.

Jesus isn’t just dead, but he’s had his identity stolen posthumously, too.

And yes, it makes us angry—not simply because we want to be angry, but for the same reason death always brings anger. We want back the loved one that we’ve lost.

We’ve been robbed of dreams that we had and promises we were told growing-up.

We grieve for what once was.

We grieve for what could be and what we fear never will be again.

So yes, for far too many of his people, this is a eulogy for Jesus within Christianity. 

It is a time for the shedding of tears and the tearing of robes.

It’s a day for sadness and confusion and fear.

It is the frantic, urgent, pleading for what seems like a hopeless lost cause: life from a tomb.

And it might all be quite hopeless, except for one thing: We are a Resurrection people.

Our very story is one of a wailing wake for a dead friend, a dark and desperate in-between—and then a wild, joyful dance in front of a rolled-away stone.

We too, pray that this is where we are right now: in the wailing and waiting before the dancing.

We still strain to believe, that we who seek and follow Jesus, are mourning in the predawn hours; overwhelmed with darkness now, but about to be blinded with the radiant light of hope, one that will leave us speechless and in awe, and once again turn the world upside down.

We too, pray for our coming Easter.

We pray for Christianity’s rebirth.

We pray for a Jesus resurrected, here in the very faith that bears His name.

We don’t assume to take anything back for him from anyone. We just pray that he’ll take it back from those who’ve held it for ransom.

We await a gorgeous morning where he’ll come back to life and reclaim what is his. And when He comes back to life in this faith, he’ll turn over the tables and loudly drive out all the charlatans and liars who’ve sold his name and bankrupted his children.

He’ll once again call out all the self-righteous religious leaders, who’ve built empires and fortunes upon the backs of other people’s sins; who’ve become insulated morality policemen instead of close and caring shepherds.

He’ll bend low again to caress every sad, sobbing, filthy soul that has been unseen and untouched for so long and pull them to himself.

When Jesus is fully resurrected in Christianity, he and it will give the good news back to the poor and the hungry and the hurting, and remind the first and the high and the privileged, that they may miss out when the afterparty begins.

When the Church is fully alive with Christ once again, it will reject politics and power and position and recklessly throw open its doors, allowing itself to be willingly looted by the starving, broken, discarded people who have been on the outside for far too long.

When Easter comes to the Church and to the faith, its people will carry only the good news again. It will be their sole agenda.

But that is not what is—and so that is why we grieve.

That is what we wish and wait for: the near impossible, yet still possible resuscitation of our joy.

So yes, we are sometimes angry now.

We are sometimes distraught.

We are mourning something precious that we’ve lost, and we’re rightly pissed-off because funerals spent talking about someone, are never as good as parties spent dancing with them.

We tired of talking and talking about a Christ who we no longer see. We want to dance.

Yes, we grieve a religion that often seems dead, and yet still cling to the slimmest of hopes that an Easter Sunday is still within reach.

You who grieve the loss of Jesus, in the very faith that bears His name: Be encouraged.

He is in the resurrection business.

Grieve. Wait. Hope.

Pray for Sunday.

Joy is coming.

We will soon dance again.

We all will dance again.

“if Preorder (Available: 09/28):
AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Thoughtful ChristianWJK Books

75 thoughts on “Waiting For Easter: A Eulogy For Jesus

  1. What a beautiful way to put into words what many cannot. I started crying as I read this, and realized how true, for me at least, it is. And it explains to me why I struggle so much to find a church I can feel safe and at home in. Loved in.

  2. Christianity doesn’t need to be reborn. Jude (the half-brother of Jesus) said that the historic orthodox Christian faith was given once for all time for all the saints. (Jude 3). Be honest, you don’t want Biblical, historical, orthodox Christianity. You want a brand new religion.

        • Look man. If you really want to serve Jesus, get out of that 2-year Bible school of yours. I looked it up on Wikipedia. It is not even an accredited school. Find a decent seminary that is Christian but not sold out to the 19th century American invention known as “Christian fundamentalism.” If you are going to spend the rest of your life hating other Christians and preaching that hate to people all over the world, it might do you some good to actually learn the details of what it is you hate. Otherwise, you are just barking at the wind in ignorance.

          I do not hate you. indeed, I think you are a pretty nice person—but that is not an inroad for you to preach to me. I am opposed to “Christian fundamentalism” per se, which I as a Christian firmly believe is a special creation of Satan to divide the church and lead people astray—to render Christians unloving and ineffective in this world. Jesus did not abandon his church for 1900 years only to suddenly find it again in Niagara Falls, New York:

          I like “ad hominy” better.

          Blessings and have a good evening.

          • I would rather have my education based on the Bible and be not accreditated school than be a mindless liberal that would sell my soul to the intelectual elite. I may be a gimp, but i am smart enough to know when someone is trying to whisper words of Satan. I’m not going to please some dude on the internet who thinks i bow down to my Nestle-Atland 27th edition of the Greek New Testament pulled up on Logos while listenjng to Chuck Smith and chanting “Charles Haddon Spurgeon”!

  3. This made me stand still and think… Yes! I’m also angry and grieving. Yet as you also rightly pointed out, I too KNOW that the resurrection will be soon.

  4. The church has been here all along since that first Pentecost. I see so much good happening around me by totally unselfish people of many faiths. It doesn’t make the news.

  5. Oh wow. This is beautiful. It said what I’ve felt for so long but not been able to put into words. I’m also in the process of grieving the loss of a faith I once new. I can sense resurrection. I feel it more everyday, but it looks nothing like the old faith I had. I like this one better and I never would have saw it coming.

    • Resurrection is a term that is primarily used to describe a person being restored to life from death; check your dictionary? Any other use of the word resurrection in a theological setting, just confuses people and leads them away from the truth that is contained in its primary use. A person who intentionally uses terms which confuse people rather than to use terms which enlighten them, is intentionally leading people away from truth, and away from Christ, since He alone is the source of all truth. John 14:6
      There is no biblical basis for anyones faith needing to be resurrected. To each is given a measure of faith which is more than sufficient to accomplish its task.

  6. I only discovered you a couple days ago but OH-MY-GOODNESS do I love what you have to say. You have been getting a lot of flack, and possibly it doesn’t bother you, but I just want to say KEEP THIS UP. All day I’ve wanted to write a post similar to this one. I’ve opened Word a thousand times, then felt too weary to even get into it again. Grieving is right. I’m wrestling with myself through all that’s happening. I want unity. If I call out what does not appear to be Christ-like, am I harming unity? Or can I continue to speak out about what I see in the hopes that someone, anyone, will listen? I feel like I need to speak, and I have been, but it can wear a person out to keep pushing against such resistance. And yet. And yet I believe there’s hope. Even if most of the people around me don’t see it. I don’t claim to have all the answers but oh how I want to explore and discuss them. And find the light in all of the darkness. Find what’s right instead of what’s wrong. Thank you for speaking so boldly (and in my mind, accurately).

  7. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

  8. Pingback: You don’t have to look | Eleanor Skelton

  9. John, some of your articles remind me of myself a couple of years ago: in that spot where I had realized that much of the Bible and Christianity is simply not true, yet trying to hold on and believe it was allegory, etc., trying to hold on to a piece of what I had been brainwashed to believe since childhood.. Trying to hold on to my family, in a way, because they are all Christians. Trying to hold on to my tribe, my social group, not wanting them to think less of me. But the truth of the matter is that I am agnostic, and so is everyone else in the world. Because there is no way to know what will happen after death, but most likely it’s nothing. Nothing will happen. We evolved from other life forms. Part of me wishes it were not true, but part of me is relieved that I am no longer caught up in the cognitive dissonance of trying to believe something that defies all logic and reasonable thinking, and once the brainwashing is gone — it defies common sense. I can’t believe I was ever so gullible. It’s tough when you’re going through it, but you’ll feel better once you make your way though. Peace and love to you.

    • I was raised Catholic from an early age. Like Sarah, I outgrew it. Religion just seemed too disconnected from the world. Talking, burning bushes? A loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God who allows terrible things to happen to good people? Fundamentalist Bible Lawyers who assault those who don’t meet their standard with Bible quotes as daggers? What does all this have to do with Jesus? The people I know personally who are religious are good people. But, too many who call themselves Christian are anything but. Theirs is a corrupt and perverse version. They should be honest and do the others a favor: stop calling their religion “Christianity”.

Comments are closed.