Jesus in the movies; The Passion of The Christ and why it still bothers me (and why I am glad it does)

The other day in the Adult Sunday School/Bible Study I am a part of at church, we were going through the passages discussing Jesus’ suffering prior to his crucifixion. As we got more into the verses, the instructor played for us the scourging scene from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.

As we watched the clip, I watched as well but I also watched the reactions of the people around me; some looked stunned, some look horrified and some even wept. I watched, but the gut wrenching feeling that I get when I watch this moviewas still there.

When The Passion of The Christ was still in theaters I watched it 3 times, and since it’s been out I have watched it an additional 3 times and yet every single time, Every. Single. Time, the movie still leaves me with pain on the inside to see the words of the Prophet Isaiah being acted out in front of me;by his stripes/wounds we are healed -Isaiah 53:5.

As I watched it I took to identifying with the Roman soldiers who took to beating and ripping out and apart Jesus’ flesh, for as I watched it I recognize that I too am guilty, I too am responsible for Jesus’ death, I too am part of the reason why he went to the cross to die…
But the story doesn’t end there, because it would be your typical execution in that day and age if Jesus simply died, but what made it atypical is that Jesus didn’t die, period, he died but 3 days later he rose again, He. Rose. Again!

Jesus’ death and resurrection was for the sins of humanity, for everyone, that whomever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life – John 3:16.

I am glad the movie still affects me in a deep and troubling way, because I feel that it helps me to provide me with a visual of just how suffering Jesus went through and through his death and resurrection. Because it is in this selfless act of Agape (God’s unconditional love) love I can go through my own physical death and spiritual resurrection, that I am able to die to myself and live unto him on a day-to-day basis, for this is the reason to live, for this is how I am able to follow Christ and make him known to those around me, it is how I can extend the grace that I have received to others, it is how I can follow out The Great Commission,  it is how I can live a life of love, it is how I am able to serve God by serving others.

~Nathanael~

Reaching melancholic transcendence; Life and Death in community

2 Thursdays ago I was helping out at the local soup kitchen, to my surprise my most favorite helper was there! Arlene’s an older Irish lassie whom I and care for deeply, our relationship is one of lovingly putting each other down in a playful manner, our words aren’t aimed at one another in a mean way, we just thrive at being kinda snarky and clever word-wise to one another.

Being an older woman, she has a hard time getting around, and winters in IL aren’t good for her and so when it gets cold out I hardly see her during this time of the year. She and I talked casually/snarky to one another for a while, but then she dropped the ball; due to a lot of doctor appointments, blood tests, et al. she may have cancer…and due to how old she is, it doesn’t seem like it’s a battle she wants to fight and she’s ready to go.

We continued laughing and enjoying one another company, but in my mind and in my heart I recognized the impermanence of our time together, and I thought about there will come a time when Arlene’s no longer here and I will cry alone…

***

Recognizing community, and being in community, and living in community, I have re-realized that death is also a part of living in community. Every individual and spectrum of life in community needs to be honored as needed be, and there needs to be honor even in the death of those who live among us. Arlene has a good support system of 2 kids and 5 grandsons who live rather close to her, so I know that if it is her time to go she will be taken care of.

She’s had a good and rich life, I am simply enamored by her stories and her willingness to serve others in a loving manner. She hasn’t revealed every facet of her life, but I sense her compassion for the homeless and downtrodden comes from some place personal, I don’t know for sure but I know that some of the best volunteers seem to understand it better than those who may consider (or at least reflect an attitude) the people who come in week after week as “freeloaders” or “they’re abusing the system”.
These homeless and downtrodden people are my friends, and some of them I’ve gotten to know really well and we don’t bullshit each other, we’re intentional in our words and quite honest with our circumstances…I get it and Arlene does as well.

I am blessed to know Arlene, and I am glad she gave me her digits before she left so I can check up on her, she tells me I’m her angel, and if that’s what I am in loving on this woman, so be it, I will be her angel.

I will enjoy her life while she’s still here, and when her time comes I will celebrate her life in her death, and honor her, and I think that’s the best thing I can do given my circumstances living in community.

~Nathanael~