Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter: A letter to Jesus.

Dear Jesus

I heard that you were raised from the dead. 

Like anyone I find this hard to believe.  I mean it is supposed to be good news that you came back to life, but it is really hard to get my head around.  Not because it is such a fantastical tale, I don’t need scientific or historical proof, but because I really don’t see what difference it has made. People are still living with all their illusions and chasing their own dreams.

I mean it’s all very exciting to read the story about the women going to the tomb and finding it empty and then the disciple’s running back to confirm what the women had told them.  But even that’s a problem.  It’s so typical that the men didn't believe the women straight up.

And then you spoke to Mary.  You said her name.  How important was that for you... to say her name?  When you call any of us by name you open our eyes.  You open our eyes to your presence and your love for the world. That’s what you did for Mary, you opened her eyes and you affirmed her existence.

But Jesus even when our eyes are opened and we make claims about believing that you and your love for the world matter things just seem to keep going on the same.  I mean think about this whole Easter season for just a moment.

I was watching the news the other night and there was a story about Good Friday.  Phil Wilmington showed pictures of kids collecting chocolate Easter Eggs on Good Friday and said maybe we all needed “A place in the heart where joy and innocence hold sway over the trouble of the world.” And that maybe we could learn something from these kids.

But I kept wondering as I watched the kids running around filling their bags with chocolate about the issue of child labour and even reports of child slavery associated with the picking of cocoa beans in Africa.  I read something by Tim Costello the other day who said that there can be no guarantee that chocolate in our Easter Eggs wasn't picked by children.  How can we use one group of children in this way to make our children happy?  Shouldn't Phil Wilmington and Chanel 9 bring us a real news story about this?  But no I suppose we don’t want to hear anything that upsets us or interrupts our joys.  We only want to hear the so called good news stories.

So what do I do about Easter eggs Jesus?  Do I give my kids chocolate?  I don’t want them to miss out whilst everyone else has a good time?  I know I can buy fair-trade chocolate but even if I do then I begin to worry about the levels of obesity and diabetes in our culture, no doubt contributed to by the gluttony of our Easter celebrations.  Is this what it means to have my eyes opened to your death and resurrection?  To contemplate the things which are above as Paul suggests to the Colossians? 

When I contemplate the things which are above I always remember how you taught us to pray “on earth as it is in heaven”.  If things were on earth as in heaven I am sure no child would be exploited for the benefit of my kids. 

So I wonder Jesus what I should do?  Should I give out Easter Eggs at church, should I give them to my children?  It’s not as if you emerged from the tomb to speak with Mary wearing rabbit ears and carrying a basketful of chocolate.

Do you see what I am getting at Jesus?  I want to believe you died and rose for us but what I see around me is so confusing.

I mean it’s not just the kids who benefit from the exploitation of others.  On Hungry Beast the other night they did an expose about Apple.  No, not the apple that we think Adam and Eve ate, but Apple the computer company, the one run by Steve Jobs.

In the story it described how in 2010, 10 workers from the Foxcomm plant in China committed suicide. Now, as you know, Foxcomm supplies Apple.  I did a little further investigating and discovered that Foxcomm workers were working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week – that’s a 72 hour week.  That’s nearly double what is expected in Australia and we complain about our work hours! Thankfully their hours have now been reduced to 60 hours per week but they still only get about 50 cents per hour.  

I wonder who had made my iPhone, my iMac and my iPod.  How are they living now?  Are they even living?  

But the thing is without the exploitation who could afford the products?  Hungry Beast quoted a report which suggested if iPads were built by American workers they would retail for nearly $15 000.  Can we really live without our cheap technology?

Do you see what I am saying Jesus?  You came back from the dead but I really struggle to see how your resurrection has brought new life and hope for all people, not just from some privileged few.  I mean it was just like that back in your day too.  The rich lived off the exploitation and work of others.

Is what your resurrection means that I too can see the inequalities and inequities that you could always see and that I care?

Maybe this is what Archbishop Phillip Aspinall meant when he declared that we live in a “Kingdom of nothingness!”  I saw that in the Chanel 9 report by Phil Wilmington as well.  I thought that maybe the Archbishop was being a little too glass half empty, if you know what I mean, but maybe he is right.  Yet it is so hard to accept all this negativity about the world.  As long as I don’t look too deeply into the world I can just go on living this good life and not being concerned by what I am not exposed too, how our lifestyles are built on the suffering of others.

As long as no one mentions all this bad stuff I can almost imagine that we are living your prayer “on earth as in heaven”, I mean my life is pretty great.

But to do this is to treat you like the buddy Jesus statue all smiling and happy and giving us all the thumbs up, as if nothing was wrong.  You know, I have an action figure of you Jesus.   You are just that marketable that people have made plastic Jesus action figures of you – mine was made in China. (That’s a worry!)

A friend gave me the action figure and I have never opened it.  It sits on my desk and reminds me that for many of us we like to see you around but prefer to leave you securely in the packaging, a poseable figure with arms and gliding action trapped so that you can’t do either.  And more important so we don’t have to take you too seriously either.  

But what if I were to break the wrapping and take you out, would you simply be a toy for me to play with, a toy made by some underpaid worker in China.  Is all that we have done with the news of your resurrection given you a gliding action and poseable arms?

Jesus, you know wars still rage, despite decades of ANZAC Days and Remembrance Days, which are meant to remind us of the horror and futility of war, not celebrate it. Why, Jesus, why don’t we learn Jesus?  Life is really confusing, I mean I have just scrapped the surface of a few issues there are so many others.  Jesus I see all these confusing things and I long for hope.  Hope that is bigger than the problems we seemed to have continued to create since you wandered up to Mary in the garden and said her name.

When you lived among us I know that you went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with you.  But despite the fact that God was with you, you were put to death.  This does give me hope that you God are with us in our struggles and maybe that is why you appeared again after you rose from the dead, not to give us the thumbs up and say everything’s OK, but to let us know that there is no where that we can go that you haven’t been.  You Jesus who are God even travelled into death.

Is this real hope?  No doubt, for when we die we can trust you are there, but what about hope in this life as well?  For those first disciples and early Christian communities following you seemed to transform their lives and bring hope to people.  Maybe in a way what those early disciples did was resurrect the lives of other people – just as you had done: doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.

Jesus, maybe this is the hope your resurrection gives me that you care enough to say my name, like Mary’s, and you to teach me to pray “on earth as in heaven”.  This has given me something to work towards so that life has more meaning than being simply a “Kingdom of nothingness”. Each time I see peace achieved in people’s lives, healing, love, compassion, empathy, justice achieved are these not signs of the hope of your resurrection which remind me that each day that unfolds is another gift created by God.

This is the hope I long to embrace, a hope that encourages me to live everyday as if this is the day that Lord has made, to be glad and rejoice in it, by living a life with eyes opened to what you see in world and still to have hope for the world.  To have hope because you loved it enough to be a part of it.  To have hope because if I look hard enough I can still see those signs of your presence and peace in it.  To have hope because I know that I am not alone but you are standing with me and that I am a part of that great communion of saints that spans both life and death.  You gave us each other as believers to be the church, which continues in its own strange way to share your love with the world and maybe, just maybe, to bring hope and resurrection to those who suffer.

Can you understand what I am saying Jesus?  I want that hope as I look on the confusion of the world.  Jesus, I heard that you were raised from the dead. I want to believe, help my unbelief! Amen.

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