At taste of theology for Holy Week

Image by James Chan from Pixabay

What does the “torn curtain” mean?

It’s Easter Saturday. At our house we’re preparing for our Easter family gathering and my birthday. In the quiet of work done, and services ready for tomorrow, I have paused to think again about our Easter story.

In three of the gospels there is a small detail buried amidst the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. When Jesus says, “It is finished.” And hangs his head in death, the story says, a darkness descended and the curtain that separated the outer temple, where people came to worship, from the “holy of holies” that only the priest with the sacrifices was allowed to enter, that curtain was torn in two. According to scholars, that meant the separation between God and the ordinary human person was ended.

In Jesus’ day, people brought animal sacrifices to the priest. The priest’s role was to present the sacrifices to appease God’s anger with the people’s sins. There was an entire culture built around this practice. With Jesus’ death, came the belief that sacrifice was no longer needed. His death was the last and only sacrifice. From this comes the understanding that Jesus died for our sins.

For me, understanding God as angry and needing to be appeased by Jesus’ horrible and tragic death has always been difficult. Over the years after much discussion and study, I have come to believe that Jesus died because of our human fear, greed, and lust for power. God, in Jesus, loved us so much that Jesus was willing to give his life, not to appease God’s anger, but to show us God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. For me, the significance of the temple curtain torn in two is, God gave us a new understanding of God’s love and forgiveness. We no longer needed a priest and sacrifices to feel God’s love. God’s love is there for us no matter what. There is nothing we can do to drive God’s love away. Most of the time we don’t deserve God’s love but God loves us anyway.

Even in today’s society, we like to think in terms of guilt, judgment and punishment. But God’s thoughts and ours are different. God’s love is bigger than any of that. God has loved us from our beginning. God will love us through our foolishness, through our cruelty, through our goodness. God just loves us.

Because of that unconditional love, I do my best most days to love others as I know God loves me. When I fail, I know I can pick myself up and try again. God is with me as my support, coach and parent, God wants me to be the best I can be. God celebrates with my success and cries with me in my failures. Always God loves me as God loves all of God’s creation. That is the blessing of our Easter story.

 

Tomorrow I will post my sermon that will be delivered at Lakefield and Young’s Point United Churches.

5 thoughts on “At taste of theology for Holy Week”

  1. Jesus died to an old life and rose to a new one. Outside the tomb where Jesus had been buried, women gathered … when a stone sealing the tomb broke loose… The women were surprised … Jesus was not inside. Not only was the curtain torn in two … now the stone had split … and angels were telling the women Christ had risen … and yet this news made one woman weep! This brings the Rabboni to the scene. They talk face to face…he lets her know he is not the Gardener and tells her he has not taken her Lord’s body … then he tells her not to cling to him as if she was the Gardener’s vine… and to go and tell his brothers and the others that he needed to appear before the Gardener … her Lord and his Lord. Eventually Simon the stone that Jesus accused of being Satan and a stumbling block turns up … and declares his love for Jesus! The Gospel of John ends on a happy note … as Simon the Rock assumes his role of Bridegroom, declaring his love for Jesus and her lambs. Of course many people down through the ages have disagreed and claimed Jesus never married. Many find a married Jesus totally repugnant and irrelevant in keeping with the more pressing social, political and environmental problems facing the world. Many find it much more comforting to believe Jesus left the earth and returned to heaven, leaving the Holy Ghost liberated from the Holy of Holies behind to comfort them as an unmarried and liberated person! And yet the idea of Jesus being the one who has the Bride persists in John’s Gospel and until modern times Mary Magdalene has always had that role.

  2. We all have our personal understandings. My blog was intended to spark us to think about those understandings. Thanks for sharing yours. May you have a day blessed with Easter Joy tomorrow.

    1. Thank you Janet. You sparked me and yes I do have a very personal understanding of the Woman’s encounter “face to face” with the Rabboni in the Garden planted in such a way as to overlook the tombs https://www.lindavogtturner.ca

      I wish you a blessed day too…filled with the awe, the sense of wonder, and the joy that came to the disciples as they discovered Jesus was very much alive and showing and telling them about the wound in the Rabboni’s side.

  3. Hi Janet, I like this article that declares God’s love is without condition. So many people have an angry human type idea of God which Jesus was trying to change. He did that by exampling that love as best he could as a human being. We learn more than we know by peoples’ example. We also are examples whether we realize it, or not. Myself, I can live only by believing God’s love is unconditional. How can I do otherwise. It’s so difficult for humans to get that deep understanding, let alone belief. The world would be a better place if we stopped using God to defend our angry motives and self protection. God made us all, loves us each and all. We need to listen to that voice rather than fear’s voice.

    So, thank you for that. How do I contact you more personally? If that is okay. I have a poem… I am a writer mainly of poetry… on grace I did for this time of the year. Actually it fits for any time. Grace is God in action.
    My email will be in this post… or at least it is required.
    Thanks again for your Easter message of love into hope.
    Diane

  4. thank you to both of you. It’s good to hear from my readers. I have had a lovely Easter Sunday. Led worship at two services this morning. The music, especially at the second service was full of joy. I had such fun. This afternoon Tom and I went for a walk. This evening I’m answering emails. Life is good. Happy Easter to you both.

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