Mark 15:22-38: And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
In Mark’s Passion, Jesus only speaks twice: in response to Pilate’s charge that he is King of the Jews, “You say so.” Then, at the last, when he cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” The world around him shrieks; Jesus, debased, says little. The other gospels have more, but there is no grand speech, no eloquence, no benediction. Jesus’ mystical discourse would come later; in the middle of his trial and execution, we would hear Jesus, but cannot. And the sight of him, betrayed and abused, has horrified his followers from that day to this.
This week, we recall the eternal power of those days and necessarily ask “now, what must I do?” We see the mob, the spear, the cross, the tomb. Is the lesson that you cannot respond kindly or calmly to the forces in this world which will destroy you. If this is true for the Son of God, can any of us be safe?
But safety is the wrong frame of reference, in part, because safety never assured. Instead, we need to find a different focus. Recall that the powers of this world are limited and pass away, but God abides and is everlasting. I hope in God, and that makes the joys of this world more intense, and robs the horrors of the world of its semblance of dominating finality. The Passion changed the divine relationship with the world and all who live in it. At Jesus’ death, the curtain in the temple tears, the curtain which divides the heavenly from everyday world; that is, our world, from the place where God dwells and can be met. We can speak directly to the living God; God who will not be settled, hidden or silent.
The curtain of the temple is torn completely, and, by Christ, the worlds communicate with one another. The divine loving nature flows though and energizes the faithful, both to cope with unassailable horrors, and in time to overcome them. This is how the silent Christ speaks to us.
Remember the conference in April 27-29 in Providence, Rhode Island at First Universalist Church. A Door Standing Open: Christian Universalism Reconsidered has featured speakers include Thomas Talbott (The Inescapable Love of God) and the Rev. W. Scott Axford, the church’s pastor, who has long explored these issues in a high-level ecumenical setting. See more at doorstandingopen.com,
Please tell your friends and associates about the Universalist Christian Initiative. They can sign up for these updates at http://universalistchristian.org/join/.
(The Rev.) Scott Wells