The Good Friday service I attended yesterday was pretty much like most services I’ve attended at different services, and to be honest it’s pretty much what I’ve come to expect from this church.
(I asked my 6 year old son if he wanted to come, when I told him which church I was going to, he said: “No thanks dad, their boring.” When I got home it was hard not to tell him he was right. But that’s a whole another conversation, with the congregation first.)
But there was a particular reading that, for whatever reason, caught my attention and got me thinking.
John 18:33-38 (NRSV)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
What popped into my head while this was being read was something one of my Old Testament lecturers had said, so many years ago. Throughout the Old Testament the difference between a ‘good’ king and ‘bad’ king was their obedience to the Law.
This showed a different side to this conversation between Pilate and Jesus.
The struggle between power and obedience.
The struggle between gain and service.
The struggle between security and refuge.
I was listening to a Podcast the other day, The Road to Character from The Art of Manliness, where David Brooks (New York Time columnist and author) made the comment about how he felt an issue was that today society had lost any moral language. He made the observation that when society had cut ties with the church (religion in general really) they didn’t replace the language of sin, forgiveness, etc. And in his view this was a major contributor to the list of character in so much of today’s society.
When I heard this it made me think about the number of times I’ve had conversations with people about the point of having ‘religious chaplains’ in the ADF.
The podcast combined with Good Friday had me wondering. Across our society if it is recognised that there is a lacking of moral language then certainly this King of the Jews gives reason for the church to once again join in conversations in the streets. This King who’s “kingdom is not from here” has given the truth to the church to join their community in exploring ways to be whole. This King who died alongside 2 criminals gives authority to the people of the church to join their neighbours in their struggles to bring hope, peace and love.
Now to think about how to have this conversation, plus a couple of other harder ones, with this congregation.
The peace of Christ be with you.