Station 14: Jesus Is Buried

A final mediation on the Way of the Cross for our friends at Parish LB in California.

Every human hopes to be remembered, even the human who is God.

We heard his words at the supper last night, “Remember me.”

The truly awful thing is that eventually no one remembers most of the humans who have ever lived.

Time and distance wipes the fingerprints, scatters the ashes, and absconds with any evidence of our having been here.

As soon as our family and close friends and acquaintances are also dead and gone, there is no living human memory of us.

There may be recordings, photos, perhaps even some of our words in a book or carved into stone but anyone seeing or hearing these would have to guess at who we really were: that hidden quality that makes us the unrepeatable mysteries of cells, will, mind, motivation, feelings, wisdom, frailty, and creativity, whatever it is that makes us what we call a person.

Somewhere deep down we know we are not intended to ever be forgotten. There is something about us that imagines eternity but who can keep remembering us forever when their memory is also finite?

If humans are finite why would the human God entrust us with his remembrance?

Does God need us to remember God?

It actually seems that the answer is yes. God doesneed to be remembered because there is a human who is God.

Those who follow Christ trust that God is forever remembered by the words, will, creativity, mind, dispositions, actions — and, yes, frailty — of a particular human being; and that what it means to be human is now forever tied to God.

If we do not remember the human who forgives us as we torture and murder him, we have forgotten God. If we do not remember the human who tells us to put away our swords, to love our enemies, we have forgotten God. If we do not remember the human who visits the sick, who hangs out with wrong crowd, we have forgotten God.

After all, in Jesus, God has a mother and a betrayer (Jenson). In Jesus, God has scars and God has memories…of meals and laughter with his friends, and cold nights huddled together in cloaks against the frigid desert air. He recalls storms at sea, the kiss of Judas, and a grinding emptiness at the tomb of his friend Lazarus.

In Jesus, God knows hunger and thirst and loneliness and pain. In Jesus, God knows the human devastation of divorce and pandemic and death.

And, yes, in Jesus, God has memories of dying.

And here is the good news for us: this God who has memories of dying remembers the dying and the dead, and as God he remembers us for eternity.

So we remember that God knows what it means to be a dead man.

Our wisdom tells us that Jesus was made like every human in every way so that one who understands the human experience from the inside — who understands the unique experience of every sort of human — who suffers with the rest of humanity — might help us in our suffering, and deliver us from suffering by his suffering as God, because in the human flesh of Jesus God lived our suffering human story with us in the most vulnerable, authentic, and beautiful way.

And our wisdom tells us that God became human to rescue us from death by showing us what a human life in communion with Love looks like, and it looks like living in a way that so challenges and angers the powers of sin and darkness that death is inevitable.

And this One who remembers what is like to be a dead man, what it is like to be human, who in the Son remains human forever, remembers each of us, too.

And we are good to remind him that we whom he remembers, who he lived among, condemned like the criminals he died between as also the condemned, are stilldying, piling up in morgues in Italy, Spain, Iraq, and China, in New Orleans, Detroit, and New York.

It is good to plead “How long, O Lord?” as we lament with the human God, who always beside us sees his human brothers and sisters turned to stone by death; to cry out, Wake up, Dead Man!” Arise by your Spirit, Lord Christ, and restore us to life.

“Listen to your words/They’ll tell you what to do.”

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Kenneth Tanner

Pastor | Contributor: Mockingbird, Sojourners, Huffington Post, Clarion Journal | Theologian l Author “Vulnerable God” (forthcoming, Baker Books)