Our Savior's Shared Journey
April 1st is my Dad, Ken Hill’s, birthday. April Fool’s Day; a “low holy day” in my ecclesiastical practice (which means, if I get the chance that day to “fool” you, I will). My Mom, Margarete, was born on a September Friday the 13th. She considered it her lucky day; I suppose, by extension, I do too.
It could be argued that if you put those two influences together it could explain a little bit of the “why” of my own somewhat off-beat character. Not that my parents were “off-beat characters.” Except they sorta were.
My Dad was a child of the 1930’s Great Depression. He and his family survived that economic hardship with hard work and an interesting combination of self-reliance and community spirit. They had their own garden, had their own chickens, but traded with the neighbors for other things they needed. And they had faith. My Mom came of age through the depths of WWII, in Berlin, Germany. She survived the Allied bombing that turned that great city to a smoking ruin. She survived the Russian invasion with all the unspeakable cruelty those “shock troops” brought to an already devastated population. She would not have survived the bombs and fires, the starvation and horror, without the community that huddled together, shared what feeble resources they could scrounge, and worked together. And they had faith.
The faith that saved my parents, they taught to me. I have been thinking this Lenten season about how it is that Jesus “saves.” Certainly there is the eternal reality: Jesus’ death on the cross that sets us free from sin and ushers us into the eternal heart of God. We are once again contemplating that truth as we advance to Good Friday and Easter this month. But there is a more practical component that my parents experienced. They witnessed to me that they would not have survived their trials without faith. That witness has had a profound influence on my faith journey. My parents wondered about the mystery of it: others who shared the same strength and same experiences of God’s grace did not survive to teach their children that same faith. Together with my parents, I wonder why “salvation” did not take that earthly form for so many other people in my parents’ lives.
In the midst of that mystery, the cross rises. The lessons for the rest of Lent in April, the stories of Holy Week we will re-tell, the empty tomb of Easter, and the appearances of the Risen Lord we will witness again in the early Sundays of the Easter season, all illumine the meaning of “salvation.” The cross and resurrection shine as the eternal source of “salvation.” God’s astounding, amazing, undeserved, free grace is the explanation and assurance that all people are covered by God’s love, are “saved.”
This April is full with the power of God’s salvation, and the promise of that grace for all people. This April is ripe with the promise that Christ is the answer to all mystery, including the ones my parents embodied. My parents learned to live with the “why” of their earthly salvation, resting firmly (most of the time) in the gift of faith in Christ’s eternal healing. They had questions, but loved God in the midst of the questions.
As this April springs to life before us, I find myself wondering if I am getting any better at walking in that same faith, through those same kinds of questions. Sometimes it seems I am more of a wanderer along that journey.
If you wander too, know that I am on that journey with you.