Friday, April 7, 2017

Norse Gods and the God of Easter

My daughter and I recently finished reading "Norse Mythology" by Neil Gaiman, which retells the old myths in ways that a great storyteller like Gaiman can. Being part Norwegian, my daughter and I both love these stories that reflect the fears and dreams of our ancestors.

But I also think about how flawed these gods are. Much like their Greek counterparts, the gods of these ancient myths are often selfish, vain, hotheaded, violent, deceptive, or just foolish. In other words, they are very human... except with more power to cause trouble.

All of these old stories are one of the reasons I continue to believe in the God of the Bible, and especially the one found in Jesus Christ.

Unlike the gods of ancient mythology, the God I find in the Bible very unhuman. To be sure, God has many human characteristics. God gets angry, jealous, and impatient at time. God weeps with sadness. But the God of the Bible is different in that this God isn't motivated by selfishness or human ego. Just the opposite. The overarching story of the Bible is of a God who persistently tries to reconcile with creation, who reaches out to help and serve. In fact, almost every time God is angry, jealous, or weeping, it isn't because he's childish; it's because humans don't accept or understand the love he's trying to share with them.

This coming week is Holy Week, when we will retell the central story of the Christian church: that God loved humanity so much that God put aside his power and became human, not to cause mischief or trouble, but to heal our separation, to serve others, to willingly be humiliated and receive the brunt of our human condition (fear, anger, hatred, violence), die and be resurrected so that the negative parts of us might be overcome and no longer poison us. This is not how most humans would act. This is not a story we find in most ancient mythologies.

And that's why I find it believable.

If I were to make up a story about God and the universe, it wouldn't be a story about a powerful being seeking weakness and service or asking me to sacrifice and turn the other cheek and love my enemies. If I were to make up a god, it would act a lot like me and/or reinforce my natural inclinations to seek vengeance and be self-centered.

But the God of Easter asks me to die with him so I might be raised again. The God of Easter asks me to live with faith, hope, love, compassion, and generosity, not strength or wealth. The God of Easter has made himself vulnerable for my benefit so I might be vulnerable for the sake of others.

I couldn't make this story up. So I trust in it and I try to live it.

From the Gray,
Pastor Ari


“Not much of this makes sense to me.” -Guster, “Happy Frappy”