I grew up in a religious “network” that had me convinced that there was only “1” Provider, “1” dispenser of the things of God. And unless you were “connected” you could and would have no links to the good things of God. There were rituals & words that remained secret to all but a handful. Slowly I realized I was an outsider all the while believing I was an insider in such matters. Although I was smack dab in the midst of a “Hot Spot” I never seemed to get the password stuff right, never got full access. My personal journey in the religious life continues to be the same although the particular Hot Spot, religious tradition is different. Someone always decides it’s up to them to change the secret password to get access to the things of God. Mind you I’ve spent the better part of my life invested in the so called “(pass) words and numbers” related to the so called Holy things.
My life long companion and I have had a few days this Holy week to talk about such matters as we have prepared ourselves for worship around Good Friday and Easter. And so as I reflect on the matters of “Password Protected” faith experiences I continue to owe her a debt of gratitude for her keen insights into the disfigurement of how faith is currently practiced to a disheartening extent and in the name of Jesus, whom we love and trust.
As I reviewed how Matthew in his Gospel re-tells the story of Friday through Sunday that first Holy Week it was intriguing to notice how the civil and religious populations were literally beholden to the political powers of the day. Actually, it isn’t any different today is it? Faith, allegiance, loyalty goes only so far, then even those who appear to profess Jesus as “Lord” turn to the political parties of choice to really “get things done” as the premium “provider,” I’m using that in a loose way to refer to IP providers, “granters” of access to the desired things of life and living.
The Easter text says that “He (Joseph of Arimathea) went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; Pilate ordered it to be given to him.” – Matthew 27:58 Joseph needed “permission” by Pilate to have the beaten and ravished remains of Jesus. The Apostle Paul refers to this kind of permission giving “tyranny” as the “principalities and powers.” You see, Rome was in its day the despised Empire, through its brutal extension of power maintained control through force, threat, and death (crucifixion). Rome and its “network” was extended by the likes of Pilate, Herod, and ultimately Caesar, each operated as “network” administrators. The religious had another “network.” But it had no real legitimacy without the larger “network” of Rome (Matthew refers to the network provider(s) permission givers as the Kingdoms). Matthew underwrites this reality when the religious establishment of Jesus’ own day went to Pilate and “command(ed) the tomb be made secure until the third day.” – Matthew 27:64. Holy Scripture through narrative exposes such coercive and destructive power as wanting and willing the same thing, whether political, religious, or personal/interpersonal, “Command & control” underwritten with “security.” Interesting that each of those issues is woven into the Easter story. In marriage it sounds like this, “I’ll bring home the bacon IF you do as your told.”
“So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.” – Matthew 27:66 The Roman “seal” was for lack of a better term, the “password” that legitimized the Roman “network/system/Kingdom” in the known world at that time. On this day the “seal/password” confirmed that the Provider had sealed the deal. Death & threat were indeed the order of the day and would remain so.
Of course ALL that changed on Easter. God having had enough with “networks” that provide humanity with nothing but death threats and that “you better do it this way or else reasoning.” Religious “Networks” that insist on “secret codes” or “secret passwords” for access to God are put on notice as well. The things of the Risen Lord are free, just like all the other “Hot Spots” everywhere.
I don’t know about you but I am tired, yes tired of those who peddle the things of the Risen Lord the same way Rome kept its constituents and prospects under their control by the use of threat, fear, all under the guise and in the name of security, that is the world and your life will fall apart unless you tow our particular “party” line. You know what I’m talking about. That person who insists that you have to say the “three words, or the four laws, or the six notes standing on your head, in a bath tub, in front of me, and think the way I do about such things,” then you’re in.
There’s a movement out there in the world and it started Easter morning. It’s in the “air” as real as the Wi-Fi Hot Spots that connect you to someone on the other side of the planet. Why isn’t it about secret passwords? Because Easter is a seismic and cosmic event designed by the Lord who made Heaven and Earth, you and me. And the Easter event isn’t password protected no matter what anyone says. If you happen to run into the Risen One he’s not asking you for a password and He is out there. And what’s interesting is if you want what he has, and that’s important to note, all you’ve got to do is WANT it. What is IT? Life, Jesus called it abundant life. There are a lot things that prevent us from living life abundantly. Fear, regret, debt, guilt, sin [in the greek sin is “missing the mark” ever feel like you’re just not getting it right?] a bad attitude, just a whole lot of stuff. Easter says, “He Is Risen!” And if He is Risen, then all things are possible. The Kingdom/Network is at hand, grab it because it’s not password protected.