The Spur

I just showed a video to my grade four class called The Easter Story. It was a cartoon version, abridged and modified for a young audience. I almost showed them a clip from the Jesus video which is much more realistic, but decided to leave that for next year. They’ll be a whole year older then, more able to understand and handle the truth.

But I wonder. Did I do the right thing? Is it ever a good thing to abridge the gospel, to paint it in colours that aren’t quite so stark, so difficult? The story is a difficult one. Torture is never pretty and we know that Jesus suffered under the Roman torturers. Betrayal is never easy to take and we know Jesus was betrayed even by those closest to Him. But most difficult of all is the struggle to grasp what it all means. Did this man, Jesus, really take on all the sin of the world in those final moments? Was it really a victory for all of us? Maybe we should tone it all down just a notch. He was a good man, after all. We can all agree on that. Isn’t that enough?

God’s word says no. God’s word says he was the Son of God, meant to suffer torture and death for us. God’s word says He did indeed die for the sins of mankind and then rose again to be the first among the resurrected. These are truths that cannot, that must not, be abridged. It is God’s truth after all. No mere mortal will ever . . .

I just watched the film Capote, a story about a writer who became obsessed with a tragic murder. The film details his journey as he goes to the community where the murders were committed, becomes friends with the people involved and then begins to forge a relationship with the killers, all so that he can write a book about the incident. Capote is shown to be a cold, single-minded man whose only desire is to finish the book, which he calls In Cold Blood.

But a problem soon arises. The killers are given a stay of execution. The book cannot be finished until they are dead. So Capote says he prays to God that they will be hung. Eventually they are, and Capote publishes In Cold Blood. It becomes the most sought-after book in North America. In the short blurbs at the end of the film, we are told Capote’s preface to the book includes the words, "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones." We are also told that Capote was never able to finish another book. His alcoholism finally caused his death.

The film is chilling for many reasons the murders, the sad picture of two young men whose lives were damaged from the beginning, the seemingly cold manipulation of a writer who would do anything to . . .

the murders, the sad picture of two young men whose lives were damaged from the beginning, the seemingly cold manipulation of a writer who would do anything to . . .

It seemed fitting that the sky hung heavy and low. It seemed right that the wind was bitter, howling with the fierce shriek of winter around a tiny country cemetery. There was a very small hole in the ground and a very tiny casket to be put into it. It seemed appropriate that we all stood numbed by the cold of that day.

A friend of mine once wrote a poem about Adam, Eve and God in the Garden of Eden. It was a good poem, well constructed with a strong rhythm and powerful images. One of those images often comes to mind when bad things happen to good people. It's an image of God curled into a fetal position, and the wailing sound of His weeping.

Sometimes we ask hard questions. Why did that baby have to die, God? Why is my friend suffering with a painful cancer? Why are those people in Africa starving? We don't usually get a good answer to those questions. They leave us numb and they leave us wondering if God is there.

But then there is that image and that sound. In my friend's poem God mourned the first disobedience, the first break in His relationship with the creatures He put on the earth.

The picture my friend painted with his words was of a God who cares, a God who feels our pain, a God who . . .

It was my first visit to a new doctor.  I was pregnant with my third child, so he wanted to know my medical history.

As I recited the litany of childhood diseases, the rare occasions I had been hospitalized and the details of my other pregnancies, the doctor took notes.  Then he asked, "Where are you from, originally?"

"Ontario," I admitted.

"And your parents?"

"The Ottawa Valley."

"What about your grandparents?"

I was beginning to wonder what this had to do with my medical history, but answered.  "I think my grandfather was born in Ireland, but I'm not sure.  It may have been my great-grandfather."

The doctor smiled.  "I knew it," he said.  "I could . . .

I ripped the cellophane wrapping off the small package with delight. The cards my mother had bought that morning were perfect. They were bright red with hearts all over them and short funny sayings appropriate for Valentine's Day. I spent all that evening addressing the envelopes and signing my name to all the cards. All, that is, but one.

There was one card in the package that was larger than the rest. It said, ?Be Mine,? and the verse inside was not funny. In fact, to me, it was so serious that my heart beat faster. This card was going to someone I thought was deserving of something so special. His name was Darryl. I was ten years old and I was ?in love.?

I did not sign my name to the card addressed to Darryl because I was afraid. I did not want to admit my feelings for fear of being rejected. What if he just laughed? What if he threw the card in the trash and someone else saw that it was from me? What if he left it behind on an empty desk for anyone to see? No. I would not put my name on that card, but I would pray that Darryl would know who it was from.

Giving your love and affection to someone is a risk. You become vulnerable to being hurt, to rejection, perhaps even . . .

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