Saint Death and Easter

Guest Post
By Chris Hoke

I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. The voice was low, lifeless. He just got out of jail, and the guys in there told him to call me.

I function as a volunteer chaplain in Washington State’s Skagit County Jail, and I’m the closest thing to a pastor most gang members in my valley have known. Jail-tier referrals like these are how my tiny congregation grows.

The next day, I picked this new guy up and we sat at my kitchen table.

Danny was a quiet young man. He grabbed a coffee cup with a hand that had skeleton bones tattooed over his fingers, up over his wrist. A ghastly ink mural of a wide-mouthed skull poured out from his throat, darkening most of his neck.

He wanted help getting off heroin, he said. He heard we at Tierra Nueva Ministries help guys get a job sometimes, and that we do a spiritual drug recovery program. He wanted…”I don’t know…prayer, I guess. Right?”

So we prayed. I held his skull hands in mine. It wasn’t much of a leap: I asked if he’d ever given himself over to the power of Death.

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God For Us: An Interview with Luci Shaw

Guest Contributor

We’re proud to announce that Image, the sponsor of this blog, played a central role in the publication of a wonderful new book God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter. Co-edited by Image editor Gregory Wolfe and Image board member Greg Pennoyer, God For Us features meditations for every day of Lent by some of the most highly regarded spiritual writers of our time, including Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, Ronald Rolheiser, Luci Shaw, and Scott Cairns.

We are publishing interviews by Paraclete Press with several of the contributors in the next few weeks. Today’s interview features Luci Shaw.

Paraclete Press: How does the title God For Us apply to the weeks preceding Easter?

Luci Shaw: The term God For Us fulfills the promise revealed earlier in God With Us. The birth of Jesus was the beginning of a whole new realm of grace fleshed out in the God-man life. This life and its final years of ministry were destined to take place before the final world-changing events of Holy Week as we remember the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

The two events at the beginning and end of Jesus’ earthly life are like the parentheses of salvation. One without the other was never part of the divine plan; both were and are vital. Both were and are essential in order for the purposes of God to be fulfilled in redeeming humanity.

PP: Why is the observance of Lent spiritually necessary?

LS: Speaking very personally, I’m convinced that the observance of Lent is spiritually necessary for me, and I suspect for many others, because I am too easily occupied with other busy-making doings that distract and take up time and energy. I know this is detrimental to my soul’s health.  I need Lent in order to remind myself to slow down (I love it that the word lent in French means slow).

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