CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…
By chance, about twenty-five years ago, I picked up a copy of Marcus Borg’s Jesus, A New Vision. It changed my life.
I’m not the only one. Countless times I have been in conferences and gatherings where one person, or several, has said, “Marcus Borg made it possible for me to be a Christian.”
I don’t think that was the case with me. I was going to try to be a follower of Jesus, regardless. But Borg made it possible for me to see Jesus as a living reality.
Through the years, until his death, Marcus and Helen and I became friends, seeing each other at conferences, corresponding, giving each other copies of our books. [Marcus really got short-changed on that one.]
He was impressed that I wrote fiction as well as theology [some say they can see no difference between my fiction and my theology], and he was so pleased when he was able to tell me he had written a novel, too. He said that men can never really know what it is like to give birth, but writing that book was as close as he would ever get.
It was Putting Away Childish Things. Marcus was simply too manly to give birth, though. The book was really just people sitting around talking, saying to one another the things Marcus said to all of us in his other books. It was okay, though. Those things were imminently worth saying and hearing, regardless of the way they came.
A year or so ago Helen gave me his Days of Awe and Wonder. In a way it is his wife’s book, for she pulled together various of his writings. I have read them all before, in his other books, but it is reaffirming, and a great joy, to read them again. This week I have been reading one of his Lenten sermons—timely since this is Lent.
In it, he says: Lent is about participating in the death and resurrection of Christ. It means dying to an old life—to addictions, to unresolved griefs, to a toxic relationship, to a resentment—and being resurrected into a new life that is full, or at least fuller, of the presence of God.
Sometimes, he says, participating in the death of Christ, so we can be resurrected to new life, is about dying to deadness. Sometimes there is just plain deadness in our lives, and participating in the life of Christ—which is Life—means dying to deadness.
Dying to deadness… isn’t that a wonderful thought? Even better as a reality, I suspect.