Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday

It's Good Friday and I'm getting ready for the Easter weekend. Picked out my outfit and everything. And I am settling in to a reflective, somber mood, appropriate for the day.

I am not, however, ready to crucify myself over it. And I worry for these people doing this in the Philippines. Apparently, so does their health department, which has issued statements about the dangers of tetanus from being nailed to a cross. I mean, I really don't quite know how to process this story. I fear that my defense against the horror is to be flippant. Maybe it was my upbringing in stern, restrained New England, where these kinds of things are frowned upon, but, my word!

I am moved by representations of the crucifixion in art. I appreciate them. But reenacting the scene is different for me. I remember seeing the Penitentes church floats at the New Mexico State Fair with the crucifixion scenes, they made me queasy, but at least they didn't use nails! Yes, they dragged their crosses across the state, but that's different.

There have been people through the ages who have extolled the virtues of the mortification of the flesh, it's true. But.... wow. These people must really believe that what they are doing is right. And who am I to stop them, or speak against them? But it feels like "practicing righteousness" to me [I had a heck of time trying to find this quotation today! oy]:
Matthew 6:1-21
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Fasting; The True Treasure; Wealth (Mammon)
16 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I turn to Matthew a lot when I'm feeling stressed. Especially the next section about anxiety. But anyway. Maybe these crucifixion practitioners feel that they are letting their lights shine out from under a bushel basket. I hope so:
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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