A Meditation on the Acclamations

One of the traditional acclamations of the Christian faith is that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

This paradoxical, messy statement is at odds with the mostly human Jesus that many liberals and progressive Christians know. The Jesus who would vote reliably democratic, welcomes all to his table, and then goes back to heaven, leaving us to govern ourselves and make our own destiny.  A Jesus who would never confront us, only confirm  and love us, and who never suffered violence or hatred.

That is not the Jesus of the acclamation of faith.  That Jesus suffered as a scapegoat to political and institutional violence.  He broke through the emotional barriers of the people surrounding him, confronting and often confusing them.  He was scrappy, homeless, and was a loud personality. He cajoled, joked, cried.  His final words to his followers were to love each other fiercely as he loved them.  As he died, his mother and his friends wept around him, bringing their pain, frustration, and sorrow to the foot of the cross where he emptied the last of his ego, his humanity, even his God nature back unto his God.

That could have been the end of the story.

But it wasn’t.  It was only the beginning.  Jesus’ resurrection, physically and within the hearts and memories of his followers, started something new.  Hope would not be in domination, but in community.  Trust God before you trust your government or your master.  Things will not go well at times; in fact, they might be downright terrible.  But in those dark times, the steadfast love of the God of Israel and the God of the people of the new covenant would be with you always, leading you from the exile of loneliness and despair on eagle’s wings.

That could have been the end of the story.

But it’s not. Christ will come again.  I do not think it will be in fire and brimstone as described in the book of Revelation.  I think it will be something closer to a the way that the mystic Theresa of Avila tells us about Christ in the world today; that Christ has no hands, no feet but ours. I believe that when we as an individual and as communities become the embodiment of the living God, not dead and buried, but alive right here, right now, ever hopeful and faithful for the future, and ever present to our realities on earth, that Christ will have truly come again.