Saturday, August 16, 2008


I grew up a child of the 90's, and that inevitably meant that T.G.I.F. television, Full House, the Disney Channel, and classic movies that featured the one and only Emilio Estevez were, sad or not, comfort experiences whose theme songs I can still recite on command and whose actors I most definitely crushed on once or twice. Hello, John Stamos. I also, and this is a lot of information, but if we're not honest, there's not a lot left, have always desperately wanted to be a child actor on one of those programs who got that awesome profile shot with their name under it accompanied with a very upbeat theme song about family values. At this point in my life, I couldn't be more thankful that a) I didn't have the talent to do that, as my cuteness was more because I had purple glasses and a few speech impediments, not because I was witty and b) My parents caught onto that, and never entered me into anything that resembled a talent competition.

Now, it's been a whole 10 days since I've had the joyful encounter of watching Mr. Feeny rock the classroom, but one of the things that always drew me to entertainment of wholesomeness is because at the end of each episode, there is always a redeeming moment, one where everything works out for the best, people hug or kiss, inspirational music plays, and you end the show believing that life like that. You all know what I'm talking about, and they get me EVERY time even though I'd like to think that I've changed since 4th grade. Regardless, the end-of-movie victory scenes in all three Mighty Ducks movies give me chills like an eskimo. When Charlie hugs Coach Bombay because he gave it his all and beat Iceland, or made his mom proud, or whatever, there is something about the underdog having the last say that is moving.

That was a very long explanation as to why what I saw today was particularly moving, and I'm hesitant to even write about such a topic because it's not my style to enter into this conversation unless both parties are ready and willing. But eff that, because while wandering in the Old City today, some friends and I stumbled upon the Holy Sepulchre, which I've been wanting to see, but didn't expect to find today at all. The Holy Sepulchre is a huge church built in 1149 that houses the site of Jesus' crucifixion, anointing, burial, and first resurrection sighting. It's a rather large labyrinth of chapels all dedicated to different points in time and people who played a part in that story, and they have original remnants of the slab or rock where He was anointed, the hole in the ground where the cross was nailed, the rock that held it up, etc, etc.

The people who I was with had no particular emotional attachment to this, so it was both understanding and uncomfortable that it was hard for me to hold it together as I was wandering through this place, because what kept hitting me over and over again was the victory story that these very real remnants tell humankind. What I find the most compelling about Christian faith is the redemption aspect...that it's never over. The point of the cross is that just when you think all hope is lost, and mankind really is as doomed as it feels, God sprouts some green through the concrete and we find that the game's not over, and the hope that we deem way too good to be true, actually exists, and perhaps the toughest thing to accept is how good of an offer that really is. I didn't mean for that to get preachy, by any means, but I'm convinced that it's more of a universal feeling and longing than a Christian label can bring across.

Christianity has been tainted and the church has made horrible mistakes, and absolutely still continues to not live up to the mission the God that we claim so fervently, or in some cases, as quietly as possible, to believe in. I believe that the way of peace and love and forgiveness and service that Jesus taught is the best way to live, but there aren't a lot of labels besides Christian that fit that description, but I definitely struggle with wanting to identify with Him versus wanting to identify with an institution that on many fronts, I don't agree with, and I don't think is portraying the gospel. The thing about today though, and perhaps about being in Jerusalem in general, is that it's just the Man right there, no messed up rules or expectations or stigmas to twist the message. Faith is a journey of valleys and plateaus, of that I am sure, but I'm both ecstatic and relieved to find that this story of love winning in the end topples most of my doubts. I know that's not the case for everyone, and I think that's absolutely legitimate and understandable. Perhaps it's just me being a sap, or perhaps it's more of a uniform core feeling than I realize, but the concept of the story never being completely finished, and that there's always something you can have up your sleeve to win that big game is one of the greatest truths I have to hold onto.



pennilesstraveler said...

What I think is so beautiful about the Holy Sepulchre is how so many different branches of Christianity (Eastern Orthodox, Armenian, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptics, Syriacs, and Ethiopian Orthodox) have come together on this one spot to celebrate what they have in common. Not differences in the institutions, or the centuries of bickering over scriptural nuances. They all come together and recognize the bigger picture--love , compassion and sacrifice. Now, If only the entire Christian world could recognize this...

BTW - if you visit the Ethiopian chapel sometimes the priest will give you a mini tour up to the roof via the stairs at the back of the chapel (freakin amazing).

molls said...

word, mama bird.

man, God just knows what I need. (p.s., for more on that, listen to "Your Love is Strong" by Jon Foreman, "Spring" EP. Whoa man.) I've been reading mucho bloggage these past couple days, and through heartfelt people like you, He's telling me what I really needed to hear.
okay, I think in songs tonight. Have you heard Underdog by Audio Adrenaline? "I'm in last place, if a place at all, but there's hope for this underdog."
Or, Be My Escape by Relient K?
"but the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair."

good songs. thanks for reminding me of them. and good thoughts. thanks for thinking them.