I teach theology. I have a PhD in theology. In common parlance, that makes me a theologian.
Yet, more often than I’d want to admit, I get those accusing, dismissive voices in the back of my mind, “Who are you? You know who you are? And you pose as someone who can talk about God?” Often accompanied by a short, or long, list of ways that I am presumptuous for thinking that. Ways that clearly don’t mark me as a man of God.
Things I’ve done, or not done, in the past. Fears and anxieties and misplaced hopes in the present.
That’s something writers get too. For other reasons usually. The idea that I have something to say is one of the biggest reasons people don’t write or try to share what they write.
Our pasts, our memories, our sense of self have much to say on our potential sources of insight or wisdom. Mostly what it says is, “Don’t bother.”
Who am I to talk about God? Or pursuing the spiritual life?
This is a Saturday question as well. Our pasts have caught up with us. Condemned and situated us in a place of judgment. We are confronted with our weakness and stupidity and bad decisions made in stressful times, and bad decisions made when there wasn’t even a reason to make any decisions. We ruined possibilities, friendships, respect, favor. What hope do we have?
Who am I to talk about God?
Really, that’s why I pursued theology. To answer questions about hope and about God. To find paths that left the muck and mire and pointed towards light and life. Yet the muck and the mire remains. Dirty, fouled, broken.
The result of past mistakes and past decisions and past missteps.
On Saturday, Jesus is dead and I’m left with myself, my past, my embarrassments.
On Saturday, there is still hope. Hope that in the Promise there is still a potential for life that goes beyond what has been determined by my past. Hope that speaks into a future that is about God’s grace. Despite my steps, God still calls. Despite my discouragements, God still loves. Despite my mistakes, God still seeks me to live, work, forgetting what is behind and pressing towards what is ahead each day.
What is ahead for Christ Jesus is ahead for me. On Saturday, that is still risk. Risk that there’s something more. Risk that when I speak about theology, it is not predicated on my past, but on Christ’s future.
Am I determined by what I have been or what I have done? Or am I determined by who Jesus is and what he is doing?
I don’t see that in full yet.
I don’t see that for me or for others. The promise is still the same. The promise is still risk.
What someone else has done does not define them either. Who someone has been or the mistakes they have made or the missed chances that populate their past is not, in light of the cross, who they are or will be.
Do I risk that? Dare I hope for those who I have lost hope for?
Peter denied Jesus on Friday. Jesus embraced Peter on Sunday.
How did Peter feel on Saturday? Hopeful? Destitute? Abandoned? Traitorous?
The past is determined by how we live on this Saturday. Either the past is victor, and the cross is the end of the story. Or the future is victorious and on this Saturday we wait and we risk that the story continues on Sunday. We wait and we risk together.
We wait for Easter and we risk in Easter.
What is the story we live in? What is the story we put others in?
That is Saturday, the Sabbath, the day of rest where there is no rest unless we have faith that there’s something more to this story, to our story, to the story of others.