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Mystery

20March2012

I love a good story, don’t you?  A good story includes interesting characters, compelling details, and (most of all) an element of suspense.  The “unknown” woven in with the familiar aspects of life will often keep the reader turning the pages or the viewer glued to the screen. 

Murder mysteries, stories of espionage, even the more lighthearted stories of mistaken identity (a favorite ploy of comedy) share the common pattern of tangled details that lead, eventually, to the discovery of reality.  By the end of a mystery story, we usually know who did what, when things happened, and how the plot will be resolved.  If we can figure things out before the author pens the final chapter, so much the better! 

            There is a sense of satisfaction about being able to discover the who, when, how and why of mysterious happenings.  Without resolution of some sort (as in unsolved crimes) we may feel like we’ve been left “hanging”.   But there are times when, in the end, we simply must let the matter end with:  “It’s a mystery.”  In those cases, suspense remains and we are left suspended within the unknown.  Does this undermine the value of the story?  Do we leave the story in frustration?  Or does the story remain with us?  How does the mystery retain its power to draw us into the story even after “the end” has been written across the last page?  We settle into the questions that remain, returning again and again to the characters, details, themes and plot we experienced as the story unfolded. 

            Each of us has a part in the greatest mystery ever told, the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Unlike all other mysteries, there is no rational way systematically unravel this story so that we can make sense of it.  The final chapter of this story results in our confessed inability to figure things out for ourselves.  We cannot KNOW how the threads of pain, suffering, humility, surrender, sacrifice and death ultimately are woven together to produce a certainty of eternal life, joy, wholeness and victory over all the forces of evil.  If we are consumed with a need to solve God’s mysterious ways, we are stranded in confusion, and pain, and self deception (that we could ever REALLY understand God’s ways)   However, by trusting the mystery we are free to be a part of its miraculous outcome! 

            During these past weeks of Lent Christ may have led you through the known and unknown places of your heart and mind where you have met some suspicious “characters” who complicate or subdue your life.  Walking close to Jesus, you have seen patterns of behavior that violate people, places and all of creation.  Perhaps you have paid a bit more attention to where and how you have been a part of the pain and injustice Jesus combats. 

Following Jesus, we will stand at the foot of the cross which is simultaneously the “tree of death and the tree of life”.  The details about the crucifixion, and the stone rolled to seal the tomb are details that our minds can grasp, even though they are details that break our heart.   But then….the empty tomb on Easter morning captivates us and enfolds us forever in a joy that we can’t possibly comprehend.  We are engulfed in the mysterious outcome of Holy Week!  We are a part of the Easter victory over death, and darkness and all of the forces of evil!  

 We trust and love that mystery.  We can’t solve it, but we know that the mystery itself assures us that there is an ultimate end to the brokenness of human life that we all experience.  Somehow the end of life as we know it is only the beginning of life intended for us by God. 

It’s a mystery.  The end?  No, the beginning.  A new story.  Always, always beginning.  

ptc@ccd 

A Note from Pamela:  Yesterday I spent the day sitting with folks from the area around Monroeville who are willing to be intentional about asking the question:  In the midst of all that I am experiencing, where is God moving?  What is God doing?  How am I paying attention to (or ignoring) the way God is intersecting with my life and my relationships?  

Dear friends, this kind of conversation (with a spiritual director or some sort of spiritual companion) helps clarify the understanding of what is “really” going on within us as we serve as leaders in the church.  Please, please, please, for the good of the church and for the sake of your own vigor and vitality (not to mention joy and well-being) do pay attention to your own ongoing formation and prayerful conversation with God about YOU.  

As Amy Little often says:  I’m just sayin’……  

CS Lewis described it well:  We live (and serve) in enemy occupied territory.  Therefore we need to pay attention to the amazing ways that Christ is meandering through our activities, our prayer, our thoughts, and our emotions. 

Peace be with you!  Pamela 

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