The Power of Vulnerability

Holy Week begins with the Son of God, living as a man on earth, entering into Jerusalem on a donkey to go to the cross and his crucifixion. The many in the crowd cry out call for him to take up his throne as king—for he comes in tFeatured imagehe name of the Lord, surely, to finally exert his heavenly power on earth.

But no, he goes to the cross. And just days later, those same voices will cry out for his crucifixion. He willingly enters the den of his disempowerment. This is not the first time. At the beginning of his time on earth, having entered human form and taken on all the challenges of the human condition, he was led by the spirit into the desert to be tempted by the adversarial powers—the same ones that human beings struggle with on a daily basis. They tried to tempt him to use his divine powers on earth, to rule over the people and change the earth from without. He refused. He chose instead not to rule over but to enter into, to accompany us on our way, and to try to awaken a new power within us in freedom.

Christ shows us a whole new kind of power, the kind that scares us all–especially those clamoring to hold onto control: the power to be vulnerable. To be willing to be vulnerable is to dare to be fully alive and fully ourselves. It is something the researcher Brené Brown calls Wholehearted Living in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. She says: Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection. (Gotham Books, New York, 2012)

Christ does not come to earth only to rule over a human experiment gone terribly awry. He does not come to just to “fix it” in a way that makes us dependent on him. He comes to give us something that we don’t already have, but by engaging and uniting himself with us and with all we suffer in our fear, shame, guilt, and humiliation. At the heart of his presence is a new kind of power that we can unite ourselves with: going to the cross is the way to his peace, his resurrection, his love. Learning to be at peace with ourselves in our vulnerability is the way to understanding divine love. We can recognize this as the true birthplace of our wholehearted selves, of a daring creativity that can make the world new.

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