Good Friday service - the Gospel readings are powerful and drive forward with political intrigue and manipulation and the flawed responses and lack of courage of some key characters. Others with walk on parts deliver the surprise or are surprised, Marks young man who runs away naked, Pilate's wife with her cryptic reference to suffering in a dream on behalf of this Jewish activist who is calling the empire into question and Simeon of Cyrene who must have been relieved to get away with nothing worse than an interrupted day.
The meditations around it however leave me increasingly puzzled and concerned. So much of it in the end comes to a focus on "me" and "my sins" rather than on Jesus and his confrontation with the powers and his call to follow him. Surely we should be more concerned about what it is to follow Jesus than excavating into our psyches and exploring our weakness and our failings. It is here that I begin to understand Bonhoeffer's critique of a "methodism" of in-wardness rather than responding to the call to follow Jesus, who as Mark reminds us calls us to meet him back in Galilee on the margins of religious orthodoxy.
Commentary by church leaders on atheism show mostly a defensive grouchiness, focused on taking care of institutional interest, or at least coming across that way, rather than a call to join an exciting adventure, powered by the hope and generosity of the resurrection.
Something is lost and missing in the public utterances of the leadership that is still shaped by the mentality of Christendom and a resentment that that era has gone.
The questions raised by atheists, since I for one do not really recognise in their critique the God I meet in Jesus, offer us the gift, the opportunity to go back and say what in their statement points to our failure to point clearly to Jesus?
Where in our witness and response do we display the openhandedness of God's grace, the joy the wonder that we are not imprisoned in the world of empire where there is no choice but to strike back against violence with violence, that we can approach our enemies with open hands and forgiveness and like Paul can live with the freedom available through the spirit of Jesus?
Thank goodness the Spirit moves where it wills and is not confined to the institutions to whom the media go for quotes but lives on at the grass roots where hospitality is shown and a voice is spoken against those forces that would undercut the goodness of creation and the flourishing of human life.