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“Blessed are those who mourn”: column for The Mennonite

April 7th, 2008 by isaac · 2 Comments

I’ve started writing short pieces for The Mennonite magazine. My first piece appeared in the April 1st issue: “Blessed are those who mourn.” Here’s an excerpt:

Mourning is worship. Sometimes we worship with our tears. To worship any differently would be dishonest and deny what Paul affirms: We preach Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:23). We misunderstand the message of resurrection if we think it means we must always rejoice in our worship. Resurrection doesn’t mean we rush past the wounds of suffering in order to find hope. We too easily forget that the risen Jesus appears to his followers with open wounds. In John 21, Thomas can put his hand into the hole in Jesus’ side. The crucifixion is not erased at resurrection; Easter doesn’t rush past Good Friday. Instead, resurrection remembers forever the wounds of suffering and the pain of death. As Blaise Pascal put it, “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world” (Pensée 919).

Tags: church life · published · spirituality

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dustin // Apr 8, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Just today in my ethics class we talked about how art influences our theology. One point that was brought up is the image of the cross versus the image of the crucifix. Traditionally, the cross points to the risen Jesus, while the crucifix stays at the agony, pain, and disappointment of the cross. What we hang in the front of our sanctuaries, what we wear around our necks informs our image of what the cross means.

    Your excerpt does well to remind all of us that the cross cannot be separated from the pain of the crucifixion. We cannot let the cross be domesticated. What does it mean to bear the cross of Christ, all while living into the redemption of the world signified in the empty cross?

    Perhaps two images in front of our sanctuaries would be a good place to start.

  • 2 isaac // Apr 13, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Dustin, thanks for reading my column and for taking the time to make a thoughtful comment. I think your call to think through the images we have in our churches is right on the money. And I think it makes sense to have multiple images. It reminds me of Pseudo-Dionysius’s insight that we need a polyphony of images to mediate God. Since all creation overflows with God’s goodness, then we need all the mediations we can get, constantly shifting from one to the other.

    At our church we don’t have those kinds of images. I think I like that better. It means that our image of the suffering Christ is the one who mourns in our midst. The Jesus on the cross who prays, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the one who prays that prayer in our midst.

    I’m just trying to understand that great British theologian, Herbert McCabe, who says: “what we will come to see when we come to the kingdom of divine love is that talk about man is then the only clear and luminous way of talking about God.”

    The human being is the best image of God we have.