April 5, Western Easter Sunday, 2015 A.D.
"Read The Bible That's my exhortation to everyone this Easter Sunday. Even if you're not a believer, I think it's important for an educated, informed adult, even nowadays, to have at least a passing familiarity with its contents. …"
I might say, if that's too tall an order to start with, at least read the Gospels.
Many influences, including books ranging from The Passover Plot to Be Here Now, led me to, finally, in my early 20s, during a break from college, sit down in my mother's back yard with the mostly-untouched Bible mom had given me for my mostly meaningless Episccopal "Confirmation," and for the first time read for myself the four Gospels.
I came away thinking, for one thing, "Oh! Now I see what all the excitement is about." For another thing, a feeling something like, "Why hadn't anybody told me about this?" Which is funny, what with my mother taking me to church every Sunday, and growing up in the buckle of the Bible Belt.
Further, by nothing but these ancient, disparate reports, I was convinced of the veracity of Jesus' having lived, died, and risen; that much (not necessarily all) of the miracles happened and the teachings were his; and especially that he said and meant his claims to having lived before and having all power, in short, being the Son of God — it's why they killed him, after all.
I saw the equation that confronted me. If I took all that to be valid as reported, then, either he was just a nice teacher with a messiah complex, or he was telling the truth. As fantastical and science-fictiony as that seems, it really was a no-brainer. Even in the muddied and sometimes conflicting re-tellings by his followers' followers, he was brilliant, impressive, unique in character and solid in his understanding. He was the opposite of insanity.
That left me puzzling, though, what it really meant.
I was "reborn," but I didn't run to the Baptist tabernacle to swear to familiar Fundamentalist Christian explanations, any more than I cared about the attempts of Matthew to convince Jews that Jesus was fulfilling supposed Jewish Messianic prophecy. Seemed to me like there was an explanation not quite made explicit by Jesus.
Jesus went behind the scenes, leaving his followers to their Acts and post-Jesus sequels. In the Epistles, in Apocrypha, in the mish-mash that is John's Revelation, I did not find those answers. I expected I never would fully know in this life what it all really meant.
It didn't matter, though, you see, if I didn't have a perfected personal belief system. Jesus had me from then on, functionally. I haven't been worthy of that rebirth, most of the subsequent decades, but in my worst sins, my darkest trials, my hardest moments, somehow, just remembering what he did and why, what he showed us we could be by enduring in faith, and his representation of the Father's love and promise of life, supplements my poor endurance and paucity of faith.
It's such a tough teaching, though, isn't it?
Love God as your Father.
Love all as your brothers and sisters.
Be of good cheer.
And that toughest one (for me), the basis of all the rest,
Still getting there, but grateful. Hally Loo Yeah.
He IS risen.