What does faithfulness look like?
Faithfulness, he talked of Madam, your enduring faithfulness. Now tell me truly. When you found out he was gone, did you get engaged to your prince the same hour or did you wait a whole week out of respect for the dead? (The Princess Bride)
After I posed the question about being faithful the other day, that line about faithfulness from the “man in black” has been rattling around in my head.
For the past ten years, I have shown The Princess Bride to our incoming Confirmation Class as they gathered for their first lock-in, but never once did I pretend to pull any theological meaning from it. It’s just a fun, reasonably appropriate movie.
Buttercup wasn’t unfaithful. Westley was dead. And she did not run out find another guy the next day. What did he expect from her?
In 586 BC, reports of the God of Israel’s death were widespread. The temple was destroyed, the ark of the covenant, the altar and all of the adornments were lost, the priests were dead, and the people were exiled and scattered.
God was dead. Nietzsche was only 2500 years late in his declaration.
But death cannot stop true love.
Even with no temple, no sacrifices and no priests, God lived on. God lived on in the stories and rituals carried on and passed down by the lay people in their homes. God lived through their faithfulness.
The old covenant, marked by circumcision, was one of fidelity. The people remained faithful to a God who had proved himself faithful to them. Who had delivered them before.
They recounted the stories and they adapted the rituals, particularly the Passover, to remind them of what God had done in the past and instill in them the hope that God would do it again.
Buttercup could have proved her faithfulness by keeping oil in her lamp, waiting for Westley and anticipating his return, despite her belief in his death.
Our hope lies in the new covenant and a newer adaptation of the Passover. The God of faithfulness and deliverance has always been a God of resurrection and new life.
We are cut-off from the building and from the gathered church, but we are not cut-off from God’s presence. God’s presence is not bound by human creations and institutions.
Our hope and our future are not bound by human creations and institutions, but in the One who raises life up from the dead.
O praise the one who paid my debt
And raises life up from the dead