We are all of us passing through cycles of resurrection. Old patterns of life die. We linger in the dust of the grave. And we wake up one day and find ourselves finally new. God is working on us, even if we can’t see it. Our faith must therefore imagine our souls as a frozen river with a current raging beneath.
Just in time for Holy Week, this new book on the pattern of death and resurrection in the Christian life, A Glorious Dark, offers a fresh accounting of faith in the contemporary world. In this book, author, pastor, theologian, AJ Swoboda guides us through the story of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. Throughout Swoboda teaches us to embrace the Christian life with all of its mysterious discomforts.
I’ve come to believe that there truly is abundant—one might say, bottomless—life in Jesus. However, this life isn’t found on Sunday alone. Life is found in all three days—pain and death on Friday, doubt on Saturday, and resurrection on Sunday. To follow Jesus as we’re created is to simultaneously enter the whole weekend. Today’s Christians, lamentably, almost never embrace the totality of the weekend in their personalized versions of Christianity. Most remain selective, prejudiced, discriminatory, choosy: we’re picky about the one day of the weekend we desire to experience. And once we’ve landed on our favorite day, we rarely budge until we’re forced to. Incomplete, this makes for three cheep knock off versions of Christianity (p. 3-4).
Full of pastoral wisdom and with a constant eye upon the culmination of holy week, the book weaves through topics such as denominational exclusivism, the Bible, hypocrisy, divorce, social media, faith and intellect, scripture, addictions, entertainment-church (“entertainment is what the church does when it isn’t satisfied in God”), shootings, pornography, Sabbath, virginity, Atheist consumers of the Eucharist, and the resurrection. I had to drop my reading twice to run and read these following quotes to a friend. The first is about imperfect fathers,
The dream died for those who have deadbeat dads, distant dads, dads in the room who aren’t in the room, dads who left to go be with a younger, hotter version of Mom. Even dads who have died… Living life without God is like having everything you’ve ever wanted but having no father in the room to celebrate with (p. 36-37).
The second spoke into the recurring theme experienced of late by my circle of friends, who are searching for God’s direction in life:
What if God’s will is for us to do all the freaking out we’re doing trying to find God’s will? Searching out God’s will is God’s will for my life. It’s a ceaseless pilgrimage we all must make. It’s God’s will above all, that we should wrestle in finding God’s will (p. 52).
I love it when we get glimpses of the way forward in faith. This is it. I’d recommend picking up a copy and reading it before Easter.