(In The Life Of The Church)
Over the next six weeks of lent, the main article of the newsletter will be a lenten reflection written by someone from our community. This week I'm honored to have Brian Gamel write for us. Brian recently finished his Ph.D. in New Testament Studies. Him and his wife Breck have three children, Oliver, Bennett and Avonlea.
It is dark and Jesus is alone.
In a matter of hours he will be arrested, paraded before various authoritative bodies, condemned, mocked, beaten, stripped, and impaled on a piece of wood.
In only a few hours he will be exposed and humiliated for hours before a hostile and jeering crowd.
In just a few hours they will spit on him to show their extreme disdain. They will sneer at his pretention. They will all assume God has damned him and gladly assist the deity in revealing his powerlessness and shame and collectively crying out, “Look at this guy – what a joke!”
In a few hours.
In this hour, Jesus is alone. He had taken his closest friends to be with him while he goes to pray. He feels overwhelmed. He feels upset and nervous and fearful. “I’m so sad and afraid I could die – can you please be with me just for a little while?”
He goes a little further and then collapses to the ground. He prays to avoid death. To avoid pain and suffering and humiliation. God can do anything – can’t God stop this? Isn’t there some other way? “Father you’re all powerful, nothing is too difficult for you – take this away from me! But let what you want to happen, not me.”
He goes back to his friends. They’re asleep. He’s incredulous. Jesus chastises his friends for not even being able to stay awake with him for an hour. But he’s not done. He goes back to pray. The same thing. Two. More. Times.
The above is my fairly free rendering of Mark 14:32-42, Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. It is in many ways the programmatic text for Lent, the climax of Jesus’ inner anguish right before his final moments as a free man.
But the church has not always fully embraced this text. The 2nd century critic of Christianity Celsus cited this scene as proof that Jesus was not divine – no god would behave so cowardly. The church often accommodated to this criticism. The Christian theologian Origen, on the basis of a stylistic aspect of the Greek, argues that Jesus began to overwhelmed and afraid but never actually became so. St. Jerome tries to claim that Jesus was only afraid of Judas or the Jewish people but not for himself. And Hilary of Poitiers says only heretics say that Jesus feared death since he was of one substance with the Father.
There are others in the Christian tradition who disagreed. Aquinas, for example, says that this moment proves Jesus has both a human and divine will. But I find one voice most helpful in thinking about this singular moment.
“What has not been assumed has not been healed."
This comes from Gregory of Nazianzus, a theologian who argued with others about how to understand the relationship between the various members of the Trinity properly. His point is that if Jesus didn’t take on humanity in its fullest aspects, then those parts don’t get redeemed. Because Jesus is the savior of all humans and all of each human, then he himself must have been fully human.
I can’t read this text any other way than to come to the conclusion that Jesus was terrified of dying. That he was overwhelmed. That he was lonely and afraid and desperate to find any way out. Of course, he acts in spite of his fear, but those feelings seem present regardless.
I think I often approach Lent feeling either the need to purge my naturally overabundant anxieties and phobias or the license to wallow in them with as much melancholy as needed. I should either just accept that I’m dust and deal with the fact that I’m returning to it, or forever remain morose about that reality. I feel as though my discipleship means that Jesus ultimately overcame his trepidation and so should I, or that Jesus was really, really despondent and so I can be as well. But this is a false dichotomy.
I think we can modify Gregory’s statement.
“What has been assumed has been [and is being] healed.”
My fears and anxieties don’t need condemnation, nor do they deserve to be placated. They need redemption. They need to be placed within a larger drama where they are properly understood and felt.
I think Gethsemane demonstrates that God takes our deepest, vilest, most insecure feelings and terrors with utmost sincerity. Easter does not obliterate my pain and suffering. It does not render it null and void.
Gethsemane shows us that Jesus assumed the darkest parts of human experience and that all the things I fear and at which I tremble are known and cherished and valued as deeply as I could desire.
Gethsemane shows us that God knows what it is like to dwell in darkness, loneliness, confusion, and betrayal and that all those things are deeply important aspects of experiencing the world as a human.
Gethsemane speaks a powerful word of alienating horror.
But that’s not its last word.
UBC Families at the soccer field
After church on Sunday, March 29th, we'd like to invite you and your family to UBC families at the soccer field. We will provide lunch at the Baylor soccer field and spend some time throwing a frisbee, and playing european and american football. if you are interested contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Town Hall Agenda
This Sunday, March 22nd, we will have a town hall after church. go get your lunch and come back for the town hall. we will start at about 12:30. here is the working agenda:
- Ordination Candidate: UBC has ordained a few folks over the last couple of years. Step one of that process is submitting a letter to the leadership team to begin that process.
- Scholarship Approvals: In partnership with the BGCT and a few other organizations UBC signs scholarship forms for a large number of students. those forms have to be validated by our executive body.
- New Leadership Team Members: self explanatory
- New Finance Team Members: self explanatory
- New HR Team Members: self explanatory
- Pastoral Residents: For the 2015-16 we are looking at starting a pastoral residency program.
- Leadership Team selection: you may remember that in a past newsletter i said we would address the issue of insularity within leadership team. this time will be for discussing that process.
do you have something that you'd like leadership team to talk about? if so email email@example.com.
HR Team Nomination
UBC is looking for a new HR member. If you would like to nominate someone to serve on the HR team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is some information to consider:
(A) Purpose. The Human Resources/Staff Support Team shall exist for the following purposes:
a. To establish procedures for the hiring of ministerial and non-ministerial staff, and to enact those procedures when advised by Leadership Team to do so.
b. To advise Leadership and Finance teams on issues regarding long-term staff needs.
c. To create and implement staff review procedures.
d. To advise Leadership and Finance teams on matters regarding staff compensation, benefits, grievances and termination.
e. To be a liaison between the congregation and staff during times of conflict after all attempts at personal, one-on-one resolution has been made.
(A) Qualifications. HR/Staff Support Team members shall have been an active participant in the life of UBC for no less than one year, have received a bachelor’s degree (or roughly an equivalent amount of experience in personnel management, ministry, or other related field,) and have a demonstrable understanding of organizational management.
Work is Worship
Greeters: Joy Wineman & Graham Dodd
Coffee Makers: Logan & Allyson
Mug Cleaners: Kayla & Michael
Shutdown Team: The Blue Flames
Sunday Sermon Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Do you have an Emergency? Do you Need to talk to a Pastor?:
254 366 9779
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair: Teri Walter: email@example.com
Jana Parker firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristin Dodson: email@example.com
Kaley Eggers: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Wilhite: email@example.com
Byron Roldan: Byron_Roldan@baylor.edu
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
Tom Haines: firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh McCormick: Josh.McCormick@dwyergroup.com
Chris Kim: email@example.com
Hannah Kuhl: HannahKuhl@hotmail.com
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Maxcey Blaylock: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mathew Crawford: email@example.com
Callie Schrank: Callie_Schrank@baylor.edu
Michael Heins: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Walter: Jeff_Walter@ubcwaco.org