Reflection #24: The Tombs Empty, But the Mangers Full / A.J. Hendry

Reading: Luke 24

You know some days I sit down and try and write these, and stop halfway through and start again because I realize I’m not really being honest.

Today was one of those days.

The honest truth is that I struggled with today’s reading. Jesus is alive, hallelujah, praise the Lord.

But, you know what, it doesn’t always seem that way.

I turned up to work today and I’m reminded of the suffering that our young people have experienced. The stuff that has happened to them is crazy, its messed up, and we all judge them for it. When you see crime stats, or hear of young people doing terrible things in your community, I pray that you take a moment to recognize that their negative behavior is likely the result of a trauma that our society has allowed to occur.

It breaks my heart to see the pain these kids are going through, to watch them trying to survive what happened to them, to bear witness to their suffering, to see them so wrapped up in a vortex of pain that they end up hurting themselves and hurting others just to keep living.

The Divine screams in agony over the pain Her children endure. My heart hears that cry, I struggle not to be destroyed by it.

It doesn’t have to be this way, it is because we’ve allowed it to be.

I often wonder what good is Faith if it has no practical purpose for the real human suffering of our most excluded and marginalized whanau.

Who cares if Jesus rose from the dead, if it means nothing to the child living on Queenstreet.

It is moments like this when I remember the manger. That the Divine cared enough to enter into the mess and complexity of human existence. The Divine joined us in our suffering, became one of the oppressed, became one with the marginalized. The God I worship gave up Their power, They entered in. They suffered alongside us, They were homeless and hungry, hated and excluded, They were considered the lowest of the low.

The empty tomb is our Hope, that one day the world will be made right, that one day suffering will cease, that Death will be defeated, but it is the manger that is the model that those of us who follow Jesus are to live by.

We are called to be people of the manger. People who join the Divine in Their mission of healing and redemption. People who show up in spaces where people are being marginalized, who choose to Love radically, who stand with those who are being oppressed, who move into proximity with those who suffer.

If we choose to follow Jesus, we choose to give up our privilege, we choose to lay down our wealth, we cast aside comfort, we scorn Power, we grasp a hold of Love so tightly until it oozes out of us.

If you struggle with the dissonance of the empty tomb in a flawed and broken world, I encourage you to remember, the tomb may be empty, but the manger is full.

The Divine is here amongst us, She sits with the lonely, She starves with the hungry, She shivers in the cold with the homeless, She Loves radically, and serves endlessly. She is in every act of Love, of self sacrifice, of service, She is the hands at the food bank packing boxes, She is the Youth Worker being yelled at by the traumatized young person, She is the Caregiver bathing and caring for the elderly, She is with us, in us, closer than we often realize.

The world’s messed up.

The pain and suffering is endless.

But, we have not been abandoned to our fate.

I remember the manger.

I remember a Love that came down.

So I set my feet on the path, I seek to follow the Way.

A.J. Hendry

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