A strange week it is, whether we believe that the gospels tell the truth about God, ourselves, and history– or not.
With spring breaks and Good Fridays, Easter vigils and easter eggs, we make our way through its days together, human beings that we are, wondering what it means and if it matters. Some of us stake our lives on its meaning, and others are indifferent, sure that the life, death and resurrection of Christ make no difference to anyone anywhere.
Last fall I had the gift of spending a few hours with a friend, Mako Fujimura, walking through his exhibit in a NYC gallery. He had recently completed the exquisitely illustrated edition of the four gospels, and his work was on display. We walked and talked for a few hours, stopping to think about what he had done, and what it meant.
If there was a thread throughout, it was from the evocative words, “Jesus wept,” in John 11. For years he and I had both seen those words, and the story behind those words, as a line-in-the-sand. If that did not happen, if that chapter was not included in the Bible, quite independently both of us were of the opinion that belief was much harder to come by. Why would we care, if God didn’t?
Even last Sunday, sitting with a group of good people in Larnaca, Cyprus, around the question of vocation and the mission of God, I made the point again, viz. if John 11 was not integral to the story of God and the world, then I would not want to be a Christian. That it is matters immensely for faith, for vocation, for culture.
Here Mako has eloquently written about this, reflecting on Thomas Jefferson’s “bible,” where he edited out what he didn’t like, what didn’t make sense given his pretheoretic commitment to Enlightenment rationalism, and the deism that was his uneasy alliance with transcendence.
If you read anything this week that deepens your heart, anything that challenges your assumptions about what the week of Passover and Easter mean, anything that will take you further up and further in to the reality of human existence, read Mako.
Dr. Steven Garber is Founder and Principal of the Washington Institute and author of The Fabric of Faithfulness.