Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Much Needed Holy Week & Barth's Warning Against Cloud Cuckooland

I need Holy Week. If it didn’t come every year, I wonder if I would ever stop to pause and reenact the drama from waved palms to upper room, wooden cross to empty tomb. I wonder if the story would be reduced to statements and doctrines, mere words on lifeless pages unable to inspire an alternative to the absurdity of the world around us. 

Thankfully, Holy Week annually confronts us and demands a pause on our pilgrimage as we linger in the same questions, mysteries, and lament that perplexed disciples two millennia ago.  Holy Week reminds us no matter how dark and troubled the world may be, God is with us and for us as those who follow a crucified Christ and embrace our call to bear cruciform witness right where we are:
“So we must not escape from this life. We must not take flight to a better land, or to some height or other unknown, nor to any spiritual Cloud Cuckooland nor to a Christian fairyland. God has come into our life in its utter unloveliness and frightfulness…We are not left alone in this frightful world. Into this alien land God has come to us.” (Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline 109). 
What I need most each Holy Week are the echoes of our agency within versus escape from this frightful world.  I need the seven-days of this liturgical narrative to leverage the cries for deliverance, prayers of forgiveness, movements of reconciliation, incarnations of enemy love, and demonstrations of nonviolent resistance in the midst of systems bent towards the powerful, drunk on privilege, and promoted by fear of the “other.”  

I need the hinge of Holy Week- a God who identifies with those who are victimized by whatever -ism the world invents and sustains through oppressive "norms." I need Holy Week to remind me that I am to be on their side, too. 

Then I need Holy Week to shape the other 51 weeks of the year as we cling to rumors of resurrection in light of overwhelming realities of death and despair.

What I don't need is Cloud Cuckooland. 

*I wonder if this is a bit of what Barth was warning us against, an escape to some naive and anarchist by and by disengaged from the real sufferings of God's beloved world. Who knew the writers of The Lego Movie were Barthians...?