Lent with the Lord's PrayerWhen my son was in third grade he wanted to know why Easter is not on the same day every year like Christmas. I think this question started when he heard the other minister’s and me trying to figure out when Passover was this year and whether it was the same day as Maundy Thursday, because one of our friend’s invited us to her Passover Celebration. The year he asked this question Maundy Thursday and Passover were the same. But the question of why Easter is different each year bothered my son. So he asked me and I said it had something to do with the moon. This answer apparently did not satisfy him, for he kept saying it should be like Christmas the same every year. It isn’t as if the day on which Jesus was killed was a day that would change.
This really bothered my son, so when my friend was bringing him home from Logos (weekly Christian Ed with supper on Tuesday) he asked her. He came running into the house and says, “its” (after I figured out what it was). “It’s because of the solar calendar. Christmas follows the Roman calendar which is based on the sun and allows Christmas to be the same every year. But Easter follows the Hebrew calendar which is lunar. So Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox.” He was so happy to know why, to finally have an answer to his Easter dilemma. Easter’s changeable date now made sense. He needed that answer to have his world ordered.
We as people of faith want to have our world ordered. We would love answers that make sense. We like to have a world where a puzzle can be solved or a problem can be resolved. But most answers are not simple and easy. There are nuisances and paradoxes that can create a lot of doubt when we think we need to know how it works. When faced with a mystery of faith, how do you want the answer to come? Do you want an explanation that makes sense that you can feel, taste, know? Or, will you be comfortable living in the paradox, knowing that the answer is never completely known or knowable?
It’s inherent in the very nature of God to be the ultimate mystery. For God is both knowable and unknowable at the same time. Whenever we think we have a handle on who God is or what God does, we run into a question that just doesn’t fit into our nice neat box. When Moses was led to his burning bush moment and was told by God to go free his people from Egypt, Moses was a little concerned about this and asked:
"Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" 14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " 15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. Exodus 3:13-15Everything is so incredibly clear to Moses at this point. Moses has a name that is the ultimate mystery. God is I am or the one who exists, or who will be what will be. Now it is totally clear and transparent to Moses. God is self identified without explaining anything and Moses is left with more of a mystery than he had before.
One of the things we need to learn is how to hold a dynamic tension in the paradox of who is God, because in the tension we find that opposites attract and electricity flows. Which element of the following paradoxes would you eliminate for the sake of clarity, and simplicity: God’s power or human responsibility? Christ’s divinity or Jesus’ humanity? God’s immanence or God’s transcendence? Forgiveness or Judgment? Oneness of God or the onlyness of salvation? Mike Yaconelli in Dangerous Wonder argues that “the church should be full of Christians who seek questions rather than answers, mystery instead of solutions, wonder instead of explanations.” When we are comfortable with the questions, paradoxes, mystery we engage in a lifelong spiritual quest. Questions launch us on a journey where we have a passion to keep learning, unlearning, relearning, co-learning with those we meet who are also asking questions.