MADE RIGHTEOUS

Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel

1 MADE RIGHTEOUS    - Romans 5

From an essay in the Marquette Law Review: “How ubiquitous the image of the courtroom trial has been and remains in American literature, film, and television”. How ubiquitous it is in Christianity!

I spent the first part of Thursday where I had not intended to think theologically. The biblical commentary tucked away in my bag was mostly for brushing up on some basics.

Simply being there, however, prompted reflection. [I should have known. John Wesley done told us all those years ago, that there is no such thing as Jesus following without the theological reflection.] I found myself pondering how Christians have long used legal language to describe the benefits of faith.

Maybe it was the confusion in the eyes of shift-workers who tried to find a seat; or, the older folk (were they great-grandparents?) staring ahead as though shouldering the weight of the years summoned all of their strength; or the woman in front of me gently rocking back and forth as the judge described the shape of the morning...

In any case, as real people in real trouble held their breath, I realized I was holding a strange sadness. It was the kind of sadness that creeps in when you realize that there is more to it—that just as sure as the reality of crimes committed is the presence of accused persons who long to be counted as righteous.

The human desire to stand worthily was something you could reach out and touch. It rendered the courtroom comparison (Jesus as the one who pays the price, the Spirit as our lawyer) useless. By useless I mean, all used up.

Even if one insists on the image of God as judge, that same God left the bench to take on flesh. God endured the jumpsuit, the handcuffs, all of what was playing out before me (and then some). God then shows up in the Spirit that is sent for us to do more than get out of jail free. A Trinitarian understanding of God escorts us out of any single metaphorical framework and into the mystery.

We are a people who proclaim the mystery of faith. On this Trinity Sunday, don’t just quote Paul when you could do what Paul did, which is to dare to describe God’s great deeds in a new way. What has God in Jesus offered to Creation? To you?

Speak. Lend words to the mystery. Let them be fresh.