Foundry United Methodist Church

Rev. Dean Snyder, Senior Minister




A Meditation

Sunday, March 22, 2009



Mark 14: 32-36


Rev. Dean Snyder


I was serving on a board that was considering applicants and part of the application process was a psychological review. One of the candidate’s psychological review described him as “slightly bipolar.” When this was shared with the board, a very bright person sitting near me said, “Good Lord, I hope we all are. I hope we are all slightly bipolar.”


Life itself is slightly bipolar – at least. This is part of the history of the season of Lent. Christians realized early on that there would be no Easter joy without the sadness of looking at the depressing side of life – the sin and alienation and brokenness of our world and of our own inner beings.


A friend who is part of AA once told me that he had no idea of the rich array of feelings within himself until he had been sober for six months. He drank in part, he said, to avoid negative feelings he thought he could not stand to feel…some shame, some guilt, some self-reproach learned from parents, lots of anger. Until he was willing to live through those feelings, he said, he could not experience the peace and joy, transient as it is, that is on the other side of the cross.


“I am deeply grieved,” Jesus says to his sleepy disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. “I am deeply grieved, even unto death.” He is grieving his own need to die, but something more than that, I think. He is grieving a world where death is cheap, injustice is normal, and most of us are unaware. Maybe he is even grieving his own sense of inadequacy.  


No Easter without grief.


A number of years ago a popular preacher from the west coast whose message focuses on positive thinking suggested that Lent was too depressing a church season. In the future, he said, Lent should be considered only as an acronym. We should use the letters L, E, N, T only as an acronym that stands for Let’s End Negative Thinking.


I believe in positive thinking. It makes all the difference in life. But positive thinking comes only after the Garden of Gethsemane. It comes only after the grief of the garden. Otherwise it is an addiction…a denial. Life is bipolar.


This is why today, in the midst of Lent, with Easter still weeks away, we sing about the pains of hell and the bottomless pit, as our choir is about to do. Because this is the only way to paradise, the holy city of God. This is the way to Easter.