Monday, April 2, 2012

What do you mean I'm not the main character?

I gave up meat for Lent. Not just the red meat, but the fish & poultry too. And not just on Fridays either. I went the whole (bean) enchilada - Sundays included. Then, in the midst “having a little smug” about the steely self-discipline required to make such a huge sacrifice I happened upon Frank Senn’s theological reflections for Holy Week, published in the Spring 2003 issue of Liturgy, and all of the smug just sort of slowly leaked away. 

Holy Week sets all of our firm resolve, our self-discipline, and our petty victories over minor sins to one side, and reminds us that the work of conversion is not something that we do for God, but rather something that God in Christ does for us
Holy Week sets at naught the myth of our own agency.
Tonight we tell the stories of slaughtered lambs and bloody lintels, of a body broken and a blessing cup filled with blood, of feet washed to demonstrate the concreteness of a new commandment to love one another.It’s important that we enter the mysteries of these three days with a proper perspective. The stories we tell are not about ourselves and what we have done. These are not our stories. They’re stories about what God has done in order to undo what we have done and to redeem his lost and straying people...That’s hard for us. Jesus had to force the issue even with his disciples. He made them face their reluctance to receive even the simplest service at his hand. His washing of their feet was bound to elicit the response that Peter gave. Peter had not been raised to receive, but to give.Peter protested that he was not worthy. That’s our protest too. But Jesus shoves it aside. If you can’t accept this little thing from me, how can you begin to accept the sacrifice that I am about to make for you?Yes, it’s not our sacrifice that we gather to remember with thanksgiving, but Christ’s. 
Do you find it difficult to proclaim the sovereignty of God’s mighty acts of salvation in the midst of a culture so in love with the idea of human agency?

Frank Senn (2003): A Crucifixion Story, Liturgy, 18:2, 17-18.

Frank Senn is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston, Illinois and Senior of the Society of the Holy Trinity. He is the author of many books, most recently Lutheran Identity: A Classical Understanding.

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