We wish for you to review this Easter weekend in a new context. For Christians, Easter is based on an image that has been paramount to you throughout your life – Jesus Christ suffering on the cross. Please note how many of those images of torture are visible in your churches, are part of your common language – “Jesus died for your sins” and your art.
The majority of religions propagate suffering at some level, so it is not only the Christian Church that we are directing our message to. But Easter is a Christian celebration and so we will direct our message to this 2010 Easter. Perhaps you are thinking that Easter Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection. That is true. But how often have you been exposed to paintings, images and other related artifacts that relay the joy of the Resurrection?
You may have heard resurrection sermons today. But for the remainder of the year, you will be exposed to image after image of Jesus nailed to a cross in obvious pain or unconscious because of the pain.
Those of you with young children are perhaps concerned about the television images your children are exposed to. Yet, you do not note the similarity of taking that child to church and seeing images of someone being tortured. There are probably other visuals in your church,but the Crucifixion is likely to be a key image. Even though your church may relay message is of love and forgiveness, the visuals are of torture.
Perhaps now you are beginning to understand why religion has played a part in many of the insurrections throughout the world. You are taught to love Jesus as you are reminded that he was tortured for you. Then you are sent out to love those who do not believe as you do. Jesus and the Crucifixion story is not unlike many of your movies and television action shows. A good movie encourages you to identify with the key figure so that when he or she is mistreated you become angry at the “bad” guys. A theme that has been constant for eons.
The Old Testament is filled with stories of rage, anger and sacrifices – all in the name of God or by God. The New Testament speaks of a gentle love, but continues the rage/sacrifice theme with the Crucifixion.
It is time to shift your thought processes away from torture and rage into a religion of love. We are not suggesting that you start a new religion. But rather, urging you to return to your churches with thoughts of love and a need to initiate the removal of all images of and writings of torture and of rage. Torture is no longer an element you need anywhere in your life – and certainly not in an environment, such as your church, that speaks of love.
Perhaps you are not a Christian and are of the Jewish, Muslim or Hindu faith. It does not matter. Your religions are also permeated with pain and torture. We are merely using this Easter weekend as an example. Review the teachings of your religion. How many of the images, words and speeches speak of love. And how many speak of revenge, torture and war? You will find that you are accessing the key element to wars and hate.
We must add that religion has been a progression and will continue to be until the end of time. Religion is merely your view of God and how he/she is part of your life and more importantly, your society. The American society currently revolves around the Christian ethic. And even though it touts many New Age phrases and thoughts, the end product for most churches and denominations continues to be, “We are the chosen and you are not.”
If you doubt this last thought, please note how even within a particular denomination there are factions. Are there not American Lutherans, Missouri Lutherans and on and on within each of the denominations with which you are familiar? And even though all are considered Lutherans, do not the Missouri Synod feel that the American Lutheran Church members somehow do not grasp the true word? And are the various denominations not quite ready to verbally and at times, physically defend their church, the “right” church? How does this display love?
Have we not long encouraged you to relish your uniqueness? Yet, many of you continue to listen to messages that do not tout your uniqueness or your love, but instead that you must stick together to ensure a church that revels in separateness and yes, often anger, continues.
Just as you are revamping your inner world, it is time to initiate changes in your spiritual world. Does that mean you will destroy your church? Not at all. Does that mean you will denounce Christianity or the Muslim religion or the Jewish faith? Not at all. It merely means that it is time for you to review the tenets of your faith and determine if those tenets truly represent who you want to be – now and in the future. If they do not, perhaps it is time for you to become more involved in the policies of your church or to find a church that better meets your needs.
Perhaps you do not see the Crucifixion images in your church any longer – they are merely art pieces that you have become accustomed to. That is exactly our point. Those images, those words of rage and one-up-manship are so ingrained in your being that they have become subconscious belief patterns that impact your daily interactions with others.
Many of you are now thinking that you have worked in environments or read of environments in which perhaps Christians, Jews and Muslims have created a loving program to assist others. That is well and good. But do the lines between those religions remain clearly drawn? If so, even those close working relationships are of the Old Age. Do the lines blend and merge as the need arises and is love the key element of those working relationship – then it is of the New Age.
Again, we are not telling you to destroy your church, merely to expand the love it expresses and to delete the rage and anger. Such will be an ongoing process. It is never easy to shift institutions. But we will forewarn you that if the rage and anger messages in your church continue, you will be less and less interested in participating.
Your entire world is shifting. And your church is a large part of that world – as are your work world and your community. But Easter does not celebrate the work world. It celebrates torture and the ability to overcome that torture through death…and for many of your religions through retribution. None of which is part of the New Age you are moving into.
Christianity softened the harshness and rage of the Old Testament. It is now time to do the same with Christianity. Review the love messages and apply them as you see fit. Remove the messages of rage, anger and torture none of which apply in the New Age.
And so it is. Amen