Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Loving the Questions

Lately I have been noticing that I LOVE questions.  Sometimes (I'll be honest) I love questions simply because I know the answer and knowing the answer makes me feel smart and even useful.

For example, on Sunday at confirmation one of the student's mothers asked a question about our worship service that morning.  We had Palm Sunday and included just a portion of the story of Jesus' suffering and death.  On the way home her husband had asked, "Where does Judas come in?"  She said, "I'll ask Pastor tonight at confirmation."  And I felt a surge of pastoral usefulness as I told her that Judas comes in before the section of scripture we read -- he had betrayed Jesus earlier in the story, and he's already out of the picture.

The week before I went to visit a woman with communion in her home.  She was ready for me with "questions for the pastor".  I realize that I love these moments -- she wanted to know the meaning of the phrase, "By his stripes we are healed."  And I could do that.  

I love questions.

But I realize that there is more than one kind of question -- there is another kind of question, and sometimes I am privileged to hear it.  It's not a question that makes me feel smart, or useful.  It is a kind of question that makes me feel humble, and (I'll admit) a little uncomfortable.  It is a question that makes me feel like I am walking on holy ground.  The question is bigger than I am.

Last week, someone asked me a question like that.

He was four.

The question he asked was, "Why is Jesus so important?"

How do you answer a question like that?  That is not a question to be answered (not really), but a question to be lived.  It is a question that I hope will follow this boy his whole life, and I hope he will discover different answers to it at different ages.  I wonder what he will discover by asking why Jesus is so important.

A little while later, someone else asked another question, "Why did Jesus have to die?"

She also was four.

And you may disagree, but I believe that this is the same kind of question.  I do not know the answer to that question, not really.  I know some people say they know, but I don't.   In the same way that I don't really know why anyone "has to" suffer -- but they do.  

And yet

This is Holy Week, and I can't help thinking that this is the week for these kinds of questions.  The second kind.  The kind that humble you, and make you realize that you are standing on holy ground.  The kind that you live with your whole life.  

This is Holy Week.  The week for questions that are bigger than I am.

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