Stories I Love, but also Frighten Me
After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again. (Luke 18:33)
On the radio this morning there was a story about the 100th anniversary of the publication of the children's book, "The Velveteen Rabbit," by Margery Williams Bianco. Though I have a deeper appreciation of it now, it was not a favorite of mine as a child. But hearing the story did get me thinking of my favorite childhood books. I loved Dr. Seuss, of course, and Winnie the Pooh is still a beloved character, "silly old bear." But my favorite would have to be Maurice Sendak's, "Where the Wild Things Are."
In case you don't remember the story, Max, a little boy, puts on his wolf costume and rampages through the house. Eventually, his mother sends Max to bed without any supper. But his room is transformed into a jungle and Max sails off to an island filled with monsters - the Wild Things. There, Max plays with the monsters and is crowned king of the Wild Things, but eventually he gets homesick and sails back home to his bedroom where he finds his supper waiting for him.
As a child, I loved the adventure, I loved pretending to be one of the "Wild Things," and I loved that Max still got his supper at the end of the story.
At the same time, the story gave me bad dreams. Almost anytime my mother read it to me, I woke up in the middle of the night calling for her because I just had a dream about monsters eating me. Needless to say, mom quit reading me the story before bedtime.
The story of Holy Week has a similar effect on me. The story of Jesus' triumphal entry, Last Supper, arrest, trial, and crucifixion have a strong hold on me. I wouldn't say I "love" the story, but I find it so vivid and compelling.
But the story also frightens me. Not in the same way as, "Where the Wild Things Are." It frightens me because it calls me to be willing to lay down my own life for my faith. As I read and hear the story of Jesus' own passion, I have to ask myself if I am willing to suffer for the good of God's beloved community, or like the disciples that fateful week, will I betray, deny, and run away?
The good news is that even the disciples who fell short during Holy Week found new life with Jesus Christ on Easter. That gives me hope that even my own shortcomings can be redeemed. I remember how Max's mother, as mad as she was, still loved Max so much that she made sure he had a hot supper. It was her way of saying, "I love you and I forgive you." Surely God loves us no less.