Took a risk today in my sermon and I wasn't sure how it would go over. There was a news item that took my attention last week: an aborted attempt by an artist to exhibit a commissioned work...a six-foot tall, anatomically correct, chocolate Jesus, crucified.
Two Catholic advocacy groups took extreme exception to the concept of someone representing Our Lord in chocolate. Can't imagine why...
Still, in light of what I think the artist was offering in his piece, "My Sweet Lord," I think there was something to talk about today, Palm Sunday. Anything that can take us past the romanticism of the story...the ease with which we consign the Gospel to Hollywood. There is an anticipated happy ending...even if someone like Mel Gibson is involved...right? At its worst, the crucifixion is an exercise in special effects. The violence is an abstraction. We can hold it all at a distance.
I don't think that is the point of the tale, though. On Speaking of Faith, the author Aviva Zornburg talked about the Exodus. She labeled the extremity of the experience of the plagues, the death of the first-born of Egypt and the deliverance of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea as an exercise on God's part of "going over the top." God didn't need to kill all of the firstborn to make the point. God didn't have to wipe out Pharaoh and the might of Egypt by causing the waters of the sea to consume them. What it does make for, is a good story. Take it to the extreme, and people will remember it, eh?
It works in a book. It works in a movie. It is another thing for our post-modern American lifestyles to absorb the absolute intensity of one man's death on the cross.
So, one artist, seeking to hold up the terror and the gift represents Jesus in chocolate. Sweet goodness. Awe-full pain and a demonstration on God's own part to chase our experience in this life to its ultimate ends.
My sweet Lord.
Makes perfect sense.
Hope it made a good sermon.