(* a little riff on "its the economy, stupid" for those who are.. )
Its Maundy Thursday. Ready for the Easter weekend, the Conservative's message calendar has clocked that now is the time to talk about religion. DC is in Premier Christian Magazine. Michael Gove is in the Spectator. Now I am tired, so I can't claim to have read their thoughts in great detail. But I was struck by one thing.
They have managed to bluster away about faith being important (to make you do your duty apparently) without mentioning JESUS. Mr Gove suggests that reading Augustine and people might be a helpful thing, but what about reading about Jesus.
And as for Mr Cameron: well I'm not even sure of what he was saying, apart from its about lifting people up. (the wife carrying festival is later in the year if thats what you are referring to).
The heart of the Christian faith is not about lifting people up. Its Jesus. Its the Jesus who, although he could behave like a King, chose to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (he could have had an Aston Martin, he chose a citycar Polo). Its Jesus who slapped down those who chided a woman for profligacy. He enjoyed her generosity and reminded the detractors that they could serve the poor anytime. He put boundaries around trade, suggesting that the worship of God should never be only for the rich or the free. He sat down with those who said they were his friends and were going to deny him with their actions. And he still served them. He was falsely accused, he was scapegoated whilst others got away with murder. He was increasingly isolated and yet when offered the chance to bite back with words he said nothing. No hyberbole to make his case, just a bloodied body. And on that Good Friday, the King of the whole universe needed the help of someone else in a time of trouble, someone to carry his cross.
And from that cross he cries, in praise, in desperation, in forgiveness and in establishing a new way of being that suggests you don't just look out for your own.
And then silence.
As he dies a curtain rips in two, exposing the myth of a God confined to carefully constructed buildings guarded by establishment figures.
And then, early one morning. It was a woman with a past who became the first sent one: The one to whom the Risen Jesus appears. For at the heart of the Christian message, is the Risen Jesus. The attempts to write him off, and then to wipe him out by those who feared this other kind of power that couldn't be bought or sold, had failed. Death had no grip on the sinless one. And so he rises and he says to the woman go..
And the first response, timidity and fear followed by increasing boldness as the first people who fashioned themselves after the way of Jesus hold all things in kind and appoint officials to make sure the poor get their fair share.
Its Easter: and at the heart of it is the suffering God. The one who knows the pain of having nothing. The one who entered into the loneliness of being derided by the respectable. The one who felt the brute force of the market who valued him at 25 pieces of silver. God, embodied in a nobody.
A nobody who ultimately couldn't be held by any of those things. For the depth of Jesus actions: the heart of love, is stronger than death and power and control.