The Person from Beyond

This non-verbal, short art film offers photos, drawings, music and sound effects associating the gospel accounts of Jesus’ victimization with our own troubles today. It is meant to assist viewers in growing beyond theological formulas imposed upon the events of Jesus’ death and suggest that it demonstrated his solidarity with our universal experience. Realizing we are included in this Passion can give us hope that the Resurrection also includes us. The Rev. Rick Malec requested the production of this contemplative film to play in the sanctuary of United Methodist Church of Temecula, California, on Good Friday when people come to devote special time remembering Jesus’ ordeal and death. Watch on YouTube HERE. See the list of tools, assets, and viewpoints which were used in making the film HERE.

The institutional church over the centuries has “rarified” the phenomenon of Jesus’ Passion, making it more of an abstract, technical, theological symbol elevated away from its relevance to current life on earth. As such it has been used to homogenize cultures into a generalized institution rather than to reveal God’s solidarity with each person’s Passion.

But Jesus, in the series of actions including his arrest, trial, crucifixion and death, which we now call his Passion, was showing God’s presence and compassionate walk with everyone’s oppression, victimization, struggle to survive, and cry for salvation.

Think what Jesus’ Passion means for your Passion, or for the circumstances of people near you; what oppresses you? Do you see others being oppressed? What losses have you experienced? Most of the news today is about peoples’ losses. Have you been betrayed personally, or by society? Does it feel at times that God has forsaken you in your circumstances, that God is absent as oppressive movements abuse the world? Are the people of Ukraine, Israel and Palestine experiencing the Passion?

Jesus demonstrated how to live this human condition yet with a view beyond it; he walked through it based on Spirit and Truth; walked into the Unknown entrusting his spirit into the “hands of the Father”, not knowing what resurrection would be like, but knowing that this Passion is not the final state of being

Jesus demonstrated to humanity that God is with us both within and after the Passion unexplainably, sovereignly raising us beyond these circumstances on which we are so focused. Like Jesus we can take the circumstances and walk through them with the integrity of the Spirit and Truth where our True Selves are rooted. Our True Selves are becoming what we shall be when these current circumstances are past, what I call “the beyond”.

The Challenge to Us

Working the occupation of doing good, healing, speaking divine wisdom, confronting and casting out evil, are all activities based on the Spirit and Truth. Jesus knew these activities would meet with the irresistible force of those in power. He knew that one person living this way would be crushed and yet, he walked into the unavoidable consequences as a person beyond them, not compromising with the temporary threats or offers of those loyal to the current structure of power and privilege. He challenged his circle of friends and family to “take up their crosses” and do the same. This is a choice we do not take lightly, and we know the vacillation between

cashing in with the power and privilege
the inspiration we sometimes feel of the better Unknown “beyond”.

This was the quandary of Jesus’ disciples thinking surely there is another way; maybe self-preservation is worth 30 pieces of silver, or denial as a way of staying alive to fight another battle.  But even betrayal has the beyond, as Peter found out. We can still disconnect from lifestyles and practices that contribute to these global troubles.

None of us wants to walk right into bad circumstances, as the challenge “take up your cross” seems to imply. But we do not have to seek out trouble. We are already in the middle of trouble no matter where we are in society. You cannot be rich enough, or far enough out in the wilderness to avoid it. We can, however, acknowledge the oppression we are in, the trouble we carry with us, acknowledge who we are where we are and affirm “this” is not all there is. We can allow our heart to believe there is “the beyond this”, to allow ourselves to walk through “this” trusting that God is walking with us, and become “the person from beyond” like Jesus.

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