IVP - Strangely Dim - Living the Last Supper

March 24, 2005

Living the Last Supper

by David A. Zimmerman

I recently read the book Stumbling Toward Faith: My Longing to Heal from the Evil That God Allowed, written by Renée Alston. For anyone who’s grown up in the church and thinks that makes you special—immune from the world or safe from sin—let me warn you: if you read any part of this book, you will be utterly disabused of such a silly notion.

The experience of family and church has an impact on a child’s understanding of God, and as such for Renée, thinking of God as something other than an abuser or a tyrant or an absentee parent has been a lifelong struggle. But she remains in the church today—something keeps her hanging on. A poem from the book leads me to think of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane.

o holy god
your will frightens me.
i plead for this cup to pass
to go beyond my lips
that i might not have to drink of its bitterness
that I might drink instead
from the sweet goblet of certainty and control
of choosing my own path
my own destiny.
i am afraid:
to entrust you with my life
my moments of doubt
the fear i cannot explain.
i am afraid:
to believe that you are good
though i long for it
even in this land of the living
and in the dead places in my own soul.
i am afraid:
to rip open my heart
to offer the contents to you to believe that you will
be gentle with them
with me.
i long to keep my privacies close
my yearnings tuck inward
my loves within my own grasp
please be kind to my soul.
be kind to my tremblings
be gracious unto me.

I find myself wondering, as we prepare to celebrate Easter and recall the terror of Holy Thursday and Good Friday that precede it, what attracts people like Renée—who have endured unspeakable abuse in the name of God—to the Son of that God. The short answer, I suppose, is “the Holy Spirit,” for Jesus is fully God, and God surely draws us to himself. And I suspect that some, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and Pontius Pilate and all the upper crust who found Jesus impossible to avoid, were attracted to the presence of someone fully divine among them.

But as I read the prayer at Gethsemane and as I watch the events of Jesus’ passion unfold, I suspect that for common folk—for women who were not allowed full participation in society, for fishermen who were not counted among the elite, for Matthew the tax collector and Renée the author and perhaps even you and me—Jesus’ greater appeal is his full humanity before God.

For us and for our salvation
He came down from heaven.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
He was born of the Virgin Mary
And became man.
For our sake he was crucified.


Happy Easter. Have a good Friday.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 24, 2005 8:28 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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