Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection life


My husband suggested we watch The Passion of the Christ last night, and I haven't seen it since I watched it in the theater in 2004 and snotted and heaved my way through most of two hours in a room full of strangers, and haven't drummed up the desire to go through that again.  But I said yes. 

Netflix categorized the movie in three words: "Violent, dark, controversial."  And I laughed on the inside, in a humorless way, at the accuracy of their description.  Isn't that the story of the last hours of Jesus' life and death?  To portray it any other way, all cleaned up and PG and kid-friendly, to make it palatable and easy to watch with a big bowl of popcorn, that's not the story at all.  

I watched the character of Jesus pulverized on screen, skin shredded with nearly unrecognizable face, hair dripping blood and sweat, body broken and stumbling and weak and yet more strong than anyone I've ever seen.  My heart swelled with love the way it swells with blood as I sat in all my brokenness and watched him take it all upon his body, rivers of crimson flowing down a tree. His eyes, cloudy red, nearly swollen shut, pierced my soul and I had to tear my gaze away. 

The movie finished and we sat in the dark living room and talked in a hush and went to bed with hearts heavy.  We'd just watched him die and I wondered how it felt for them, his mother and closest friends, to go to bed that night, not knowing he would rise.  

And friends, I've never been so relieved to wake up on Easter morning.  We woke up washed in sun and my first thought was, "He is risen!" and my heart, it stirred in its tomb.  

At church, all through the liturgy and worship and preaching, I sat a woman in love with a God I've never seen and still I've known him in all my senses for a very long time.  And the words of our preacher sounded like Jesus calling to his friend, Lazarus, "Come forth!"  Except he talked of living the resurrection life, every day.

The tears trickled out from the grave.

But how?  How do I live the resurrection when my insides seem to be dying a slow death?  

I don't know that I heard any other answer but the whisper to my soul: You can, because I rose.  

I went forward and tore a piece of bread and took a cup of wine and sat down in my pew, and I savored resurrection life sliding down my throat into my body with salty tears, nourishing every part, this scandalous feast of the broken, risen one I love.  


  1. I have to admit that I've never seen this movie, though I've wanted to...I think I'm just too afraid of the suffering. So the way you described entering the suffering and feeling deep the sorrow and going to sleep as if hope was dead, and then awaking...and hope is alive -- and He is alive again....Wow. May we eat of the resurrection life each day. This is so powerful.

    1. I totally understand that, sweet friend. The suffering is graphic and hard to watch, and maybe it's not necessary, I think sometimes, my soul just needs the intense reminder to be reawakened to the glory of it all.

  2. Beautiful words, Amber, and I love this song!

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

    1. Thank you, Laurie. Ah, that song... I've been listening to it over and over since Sunday. I can feel some of the glory of Christ around me when I hear it.

  3. I totally get what you are saying. A friend said smiling and bouncing "we should watch the passion before good Friday service!" I tried to hide my initial reaction of "no way!" but I smirked and said "yeah, maybe." The reality of Easter was more prevalent this year. It usually passes disguised as every other day. For some reason, I stopped and really thought about what it meant. It might be on part because I just got done reading the old testament and it was on my mind more.

    I wish Jesus didn't have to die. I was read the book of Matthew last week and in my heart kept hoping for Jesus to call down angels and be saved. For Mary to not watch her son be murdered. For peter not hanging himself. But I knew after reading the OT that it had to be done. I just wish that it didn't get to that point. I wish that we could go back to the garden and trust and love God. That, that would be enough for us.

    I am having a hard time accepting Jesus dyeing for my sins. It sounds weird to say it out loud. But it seems too easy. My wordly experience tells me if something is too good to be true it usually is. Just like those ads "you are our 1,000,000 visitor! Click to collect your prize."

    The difficult part in the death of Jesus is that he called us down that path. From the start he never promises a life with white picket fence, neighbors that mow their lawn in sync every morning, or a Victorian home. Even when God gave them Manna they had to gather it before light and at night. That meant they were getting up before dawn! And getting twice as much on Saturday. God provides but not always the way we think.

    Now I am not sure I know where I am going with this. Just wanted to reflect with you and say thinking you for writing this and sharing your heart. It is inspiring :)

    1. Ah, Matt, you found me :-) Can I just say, I love that you joined in reflecting with me in this piece? I'm so with you in your honesty here. I wish for those things, too, and I think the longer we've known the story of the gospel, the harder it can be (in general) to remember those gut reactions to the absurdity and tragedy of it all. And to be honest about it, at that. Your words are so true - "God provides but not always the way we think." Oh, what a hard lesson that is to learn - again and again and again.

      Thank you, for these thoughts. I hope to see you (and hear from you) more around here.

      And now, I need to see if I can find the place where you write...

  4. I felt a sense of ease when talking with you. One that comes from naturally knowing where the other is at. As if we are ships passing in the night talking over a satellite radio as we are both tossed about by the waves. I look forward to our continued journey of reflection.

    With respect to writing a memoir I started a journey of self reflection. I realized after staring at my keyboard how little I remembered about my childhood. In self preservation it has been locked away. I went to a counselor today to start the process of opening up again. It is going to be pretty ugly for awhile. It's going to get worse than better.

    here is my blog

    looking forward to staying in contact :)

    1. Friend, you are brave. Diving into the ugly is so hard. And you're right - it will get worse before it gets better - but here is where you will be held, and here where you peel back layers and uncover dead and buried things is where you will you see resurrection and life spring up. You are in good company.

      Peace and strength to you, Matt.