My guest blogger today is Rev. Dr. Larry Duane Pickens, Esquire, an Ordained United Methodist Pastor in the Northern Illinois Conference. He holds degrees in Political Science, Theology, Divinity and law from North Park University, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (my own alma mater), Bossey (Switzerland), Chicago Theological Seminary, and DePaul University. Larry has pastored churches in New York and Illinois and led a global agency of the church from 2004-2008. He is a distinguished pastor, lawyer and United Methodist who has spoken from pulpits and in front of national constituencies. Please welcome to my blog…a friend and colleague, Larry Pickens!
The Why Question
It is said that if we are to plumb the depth of our lives, we must learn how to ask the why questions. It is the why questions that demonstrate with clarity, I think, the conditions of our souls and the nature of our existence. Perhaps, when we ask the why questions it represents the time in life when we are most honest with ourselves and God. Why questions- “why is there violence and injustice in the world?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why do the unrighteous prosper?” And the ultimate question, “Why is there suffering and death?”
The resurrection is also grounded in a why question that is posed to both Mary and Mary Magdalene. What is their reason for going to the tomb following Jesus’ death? Perhaps they were still in shock, suffering from some form of past traumatic stress syndrome, which drove them to a tomb with spices designed to ameliorate the smell of a rotting corpse lying in a tomb that was purportedly sealed by a boulder?
I would like to think that it was hope that drew these faithful women to Jesus’ tomb. The hope, inspired by Jesus’ ministry of inclusiveness, carried these women to the tomb in a death defying act of love and faithfulness. The why question that is posed in the tomb. Hope is a stubborn thing that sometimes grows frail but is very hard to kill. It was a stubborn hope that moved these women to the tomb. They became instruments of God’s death defying will represented in Jesus’ victory over the grave.
Diana Butler Bass has recently written a compelling book that is titled “Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening.” In an age when we find ourselves trying to repair creaking old church structures, Bass challenges our thinking, calling us to spiritual transformation and resurrection. She is calling us to make all things new for an age that still has its hope grounded in Jesus Christ. She states that we are at a critical stage in a completely new spiritual awakening, a vast interreligious progression toward individual and community transformation. Resurrection in our denominations and our local churches is grounded in the life giving and service driven gospel to which Bass speaks. But such compelling transformation is again grounded in the why questions of our lives.
I hope that you too are asking the why questions. But more so, my hope is that you are walking toward renewal, transformation and yes, resurrection with a stubborn hope.