Ever since discovering the Rev. Billy Graham's numerous books in the 1960s, I've admired devout Christians who can freely quote brief but powerful Bible passages. That's a demanding skill, and suited to our sound bite-loving society. But when it comes to the Scriptures, I think many of us relate better to the stories and lessons, still pertinent after two millennia. The parables of the prodigal son, the over-nurtured seedling and Christ's curing of the 10 lepers are personal favorites.
These and most other biblical accounts are nonseasonal, short and make one obvious point. Fine again for quickie summaries. This doesn't work as well, though, on the passion story of Christ at Easter time. Summoning a behavioral response to that weeklong saga in a single act is difficult. We usually go with 'celebrate', focusing on the Sunday morning tidings at the tomb. But what about the unease at the last supper, the unsettling Gethsemane garden scene, Judas's betrayal or Christ's brutal trek to Mount Calvary?
As Gethsemane shows, Jesus didn't approach Calvary without anxiety, any more than any other mortal would. And while His prospective act meant everything to us, what was in it for Him? This was the greatest human sacrifice ever, very worthy of annual contemplation.
Gratitude isn't one of man's strongest traits as the 10 lepers parable demonstrates, only one of them lingering after the miraculous cure to offer thanks. But along with celebrating and sending a bunch of Easter cards and best wishes "out," we Christians really ought to think about sending a thank you note "up."