Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday's Meditation

Over the weekend I read Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson. Her son wrote a screenplay for the book and the movie was released in theaters recently. So, I thought I'd give it another read.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, it's about two fifth grade kids, a boy - Jesse - and a girl - Leslie - who become friends when Leslie moves into the old Perkins' farm near Jesse's home. Together, they create a magical kingdom they name Terabithia and have all sorts of adventures.

Leslie has never been to church and would really like to go so she can make up her own mind about church. Jesse, whose family had faithfully attended church, until his mother had a disagreement with the pastor, can't quite figure out why Leslie would want to go with his family to the upcoming Easter service.

After the service Leslie, Jesse, and May Belle, Jesse's little sister, have the following conversation.

"'That whole Jesus thing is really interesting, isn't it? All those people wanting to kill him when he hadn't done anything to hurt them.' She [Leslie] hesitated. 'It's really kid of a beautiful story - like Abraham Lincoln or Socrates - or Aslan.'"

"'It ain't beautiful,' May Belle broke in. 'It's scary. Nailing holes right through some body's hand.'

'May Belle's right.' Jess reached down into the deepest pit of his mind. 'It's because we're all vile sinners God made Jesus die.'

"She [Leslie] looked at him as if she were going to argue, then seemed to change her mind. 'It's crazy, isn't it?" She shook her head. 'You have to believe it, but you hate it. I don't have to believe it, and I think it's beautiful.' She shook her head again. 'It's crazy.'"
One of the things that I love about the Christ-story is that it is beautiful. But it is beautiful because of its tragedy. The story isn't simple. It's complex. It's gripping. It's tumultuous.

I love that Leslie sees the story of Aslan being played out in the story of Jesus - the innocent king turning himself over to be killed for the sake of a "vile sinner." Leslie gets it! She gets the story! She sees the beauty. She accepts it and loves it and wants to make it her own! She realizes that it is her choice to see the beauty of the story, to accept the gift.

And yet, the church kids miss it. Rather than accepting the gift of grace, they hate the story because they are the cause of the story. The shame of the cross is laid upon them because they fail to see that Christ accepted the cross willingly rather than the cross being thrust upon him.