Sarah Bessey writes in Jesus Feminist (please don’t judge) about giving birth (please keep reading) in a garage when child No.3 arrived sooner than anticipated. She says:
I can assure you: there isn’t anything dignified about giving birth.
And yet, that was the moment when I felt my carefully constructed line between the sacred and the secular shatter once and for all. The sacred and holy moments of a life are often our most raw, our most human moments, aren’t they?
But we keep it quiet, the mess of the Incarnation, because it’s just not church-y enough and men don’t quite understand and it’s personal, private, there aren’t words for this and it’s a bit too much.
It’s too much pain, too much waiting, too much humanity, too much God, too much work, too much joy, too much love and far too messy. With far too little control. And sometimes it does not go the way we thought it was supposed to go and then we are also left with questions, with deep sadness, with longing.
This made me think about Easter. I realise that some traditions actually get a lot more ‘earthy’ about the passion of Christ, the sufferings of Jesus.
I wonder if that is why the theology of some traditions feels more embodied?
Instead many Christians have this separation between our bodies and souls which flows into a separation of work and church, of our everyday activities and our faith.
Easter is a time when we can enter more into this lived experience of Jesus.
- Try participating in a seder this week, or organising your own, so you can more fully visualise the Last Supper.
- Wash some feet on Maundy Thursday.
- Watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and allow yourself to appreciate the wounds Jesus endured for our sake.
- Imagine what it means for Jesus to have a resurrected body. A renewed body. Different, yet able to be recognised. With wounds still obvious. Able to cook and share food. Yet with strange powers.
Remember that Jesus worked for up to 25 years as a carpenter before he started his public ministry. He did hard physical work, engaged with customers, cared for his family, used his intelligence and creativity and gifts. He watched and observed and gathered all his material for his parable illustrations. Just in the Gospel of Matthew there are the following teaching images:
o salt, light (5.13-16)
o moths, vermin, thieves (6.19)
o light/darkness (6.22)
o two masters (6.24)
o speck/planks (7.3)
o dogs and pigs (7.6)
o bread/stone, fish/snake (7.9-10)
o narrow gate/wide gate and road (7.13-14)
o sheep/wolves, grapes/thornbushes, figs/thistles, good tree versus bad tree (7.15-20)
o build house on a rock (7.24-27)
o doctor for the sick (9.12-13)
o bridegroom (9.15)
o patches on garments/wineskins (9.16-17)
o sheep without a shepherd (9.36)
o harvest and workers (9.37-38)
o the worker is worth his keep (10.10) = this is work! Teaching and healing…
o shrewd as snakes, innocent as doves (10.16)
o student/teacher, servant/master (10.24)
o sparrows valued (10.29-31)
o cross (10.38)
o reeds/fine clothes (11.7-8)
o children sitting in the marketplace (11.16-17)
o eating and drinking = glutton, drunkard, friend of tax collectors and sinners (11.19)
o yoke (11.28-30)
o sheep falls into pit (12.11)
o kingdom/city/household divided (12.25)
o strong man tied up (12.29)
o good tree/bad tree (12.33-37)
o Jonah/Queen of Sheba and other scriptures (12.39-42)
o farmer sowing seeds (13.3-9) and explained (13.18-23)
o wheat and weeds (13.24-20) and explained (13.37-43)
o mustard seed (13.31-32)
o yeast in dough (13.33)
o treasure in the field (13.44)
o merchant looking for fine pearls (13.45-46)
o net let down into the lake good fish/bad fish (13.47-50)
o new and old treasures (13.52)
o plants (15.13)
o food/words/heart and defiling (15.17-20)
o children’s bread/dogs (15.26)
o sunset red/stormy portent (16.2-3)
o yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (16.6)
o Peter = rock, keys of heaven (16.18-19)
o stumbling block (16.23)
o cross (16.24)
o mustard seed versus mountain (17.20)
o duties and taxes (17.25)
o children as the greatest (18.1-5)
o millstone (18.6)
o 100 sheep/shepherd searches for lost sheep (18.12-14)
o pagan or tax collector (18.17)
o ungrateful servant with a big debt (18.23-35)
o camel/eye of needle (19.24)
o landowners hiring workers for the vineyard (20.1-16)
o drink the cup (20.22)
o servant leadership (20.24-28)
o fig trees and mountains (21.21)
o man and two sons sent to work (21.28-31)
o landowner, vineyard and the bad tenants (21.33-41)
o cornerstone (21.42-44)
o king and wedding banquet, sending out the servants (22.1-14)
o coin with Caesar’s head (22.18-21)
o boxes, tassels, banquets, seats in synagogues (23.5-6)
o gifts and the altar (23.16-22)
o spices versus weighty matters, gnats and camels (23.23-24)
o dirty cup and dish (23.27-28)
o hen and chicks (23.37)
o temple building (24.2)
o house, field, cloak, nursing mothers during time of desolation (24.17-20)
o carcass and vultures (24.28)
o fig tree predicts the seasons (24.32)
o men in the field, women grinding with a hand mill (24.40-41)
o house owner and thief (24.43)
o faithful servant in charge of the master’s possessions (24.45-51)
o ten virgins meeting the bridegroom (25.1-12)
o man going on a journey leaving bags of gold to the servants (25.14-30)
o sheep and the goats (25.32-33)
o hungry, thirsty, in need of hospitality, in prison (25.35-36)
o bread and cup/wine (26.26-29)
o strike shepherd, sheep scatter (26.31)
o cup of suffering (26.39)
What are the metaphors that God is teaching us through our ordinary work and our daily living?
How can we see the value of our work, for the way it connects us to God and Jesus and their work in the world, and for the world?
What is God teaching us through our bodies, our brokenness, our wounds?