Grace trumps karma...

I knew intuitively that once we started to explore this year's artistic and theological emphasis for Good Friday - GRACE trumps KARMA - more and more clues would arrive to challenge or confirm this work. So today, Fr. Richard Rohr, put it like this:

The morality of a mystic is a response to union, not an earning of union. Once you've experienced that you’re one with God and your neighbor, why would you steal from him and make his life more difficult? Once you've experienced union with your neighbor, why would you lie to him? Or steal his wife? Of course you wouldn't.

But most of us think backwards, “If I don’t lie, God will like me.” No, you’ll like yourself more! God likes you already. That problem is solved once and for all and forever. That’s what every mystic enjoys at ever fuller levels—that you know that you’re loved ahead of time, before death, and unconditionally. 

And that’s why mystics are happy people. In fact, if they’re not happy, they’re not mystics. If he or she is a “sourpuss” (Pope Francis’ word!), you know that person is still playing the moral game, which is mostly about willpower, leading to constant failure and disappointment with the self.
Earlier in the week I put it like this to my musical team:

I know it is well before Lent, and some are still recovering from Christmas and/or New Year's Day, but we've started a creative process for a new experimental liturgy for this year's Good Friday worship.  Here is the basic premise:  God's loving grace is greater than all of our sin - that is what Easter celebrates.  So what I want to explore through narrative, song, silence and symbol is how this truth is misunderstood - first by those in the biblical story - but also by many contemporary people. Those outside of the church often think that Christianity is all about judgement: it is not and that is one misunderstanding.  Many of those inside the church act like if they just try hard enough to be good, God will reward them.  Wrong and that too is a misunderstanding. For our reward is never based upon what we do, think or say; it is ALL a gift from God.  And that is misunderstood on so many levels.

So, I'm thinking the organizing song is "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" as interpreted by either Nina Simone, Cyndi Lauper and/or Yusuf Islam. It could be Jesus singing, but it could also be a lot of others in the biblical story. I want to create a liturgical concert telling the stories of how Peter, Judas, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene and Jesus are misunderstood - and how God's grace brings healing even to our confusion.

I think "misunderstood" is the right theme to explore in our music and writing, but perhaps the public summary of this gig should be borrowed from Bono:  GRACE TRUMPS KARMA.


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