Reflections by Rev. Lou Lothman, Th.D.

Holy Week 2020

It is the midst of Holy Week in the Western Christian church, where I am most likely in public ways to hang my hat.

One take on Holy Week is that God not only hears all human anguish, but also, in a way, “consents” to it and thereby God’s being is affected in painful ways for and in God. God is a God who suffers.  This is the nature of divine love, profound concern for what is other – regardless of the unpleasantness that may come flowing in with that openness.  Self emptying love. Kenosis.  The Nothing/Everythingness of God’s eternal dance of transcending ecstasy. The ecstasy of “standing outside oneself” in both joy and sorrow.

One take on Holy Week is that God not only hears all human anguish, but also, in a way, “consents” to it and thereby God’s being is affected in painful ways for and in God. God is a God who suffers.  This is the nature of divine love, profound concern for what is other – regardless of the unpleasantness that may come flowing in with that openness.  Self emptying love. Kenosis.  The Nothing/Everythingness of God’s eternal dance of transcending ecstasy. The ecstasy of “standing outside oneself” in both joy and sorrow.

Though habitually many of us would want entry to God’s love from the pleasant side only (think resurrection, for instance), pleasant is but a shade on the spectrum of human experience openly, trustingly, authentically lived.

In Kahlil Gibran’s classic piece “The Prophet”, in the section on Joy and Sorrow he writes, 

“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

“Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is greater’. Together they come and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember the other is asleep on your bed.”

Though we might think we prefer paths of pleasantness, learning to “step mercifully into unpleasantness” – both our own and that of others, can be, in the Spirit, divinity embraced.

Many among us are already doing this and the list is long – medical people and supportive staff, first responders, delivery people, leaders all on the front lines facing the virus.  May we support them in any way we can and follow their courageous lead into the new tomorrow that challenges, invites and beckons us.

Next time, I will share some thoughts about how we may “embrace divinity” during these extraordinary times and the opportunities for spiritual and emotional growth they provide.

Godspeed and Shalom to you.

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