By Jaime Nava –
A couple years ago, archaeologists unearthed something unexpected in New Mexico. There was a legend of items buried within a landfill that had many hoping they were the ones to find it. It was in 2014 that the hunt for an urban legend proved fruitful. What was found? E.T. It wasn’t the actual Reese’s loving alien, but rather a video game that had been released in 1983. Some claim that it was one of the worst games ever made.
Atari had seen success with its video game industry back in the 70’s. There came a collapse in the 80’s that caused Atari to fold, losing over $500 million dollars. Ouch. There were rumors of kids scavenging a local landfill where trucks had dumped thousands of video game cartridges for all kinds of titles, including one game Atari was happy to see dumped: E.T. Atari denied dumping these games and said it was defunct merchandise. This rumor floated around for thirty years until a gaming company from Canada got the okay from the city to excavate the site. Even XBOX showed up to film the event and turn it into a documentary.
History is in the dirt. So often we find news about our ancestry and our human past covered under layers of dirt and rocks. One of the people present for the dig was the creator of the E.T. game. He watched as they sifted and found his ridiculed title see the light of day again. He was reminded of his work, his hope for success, and his failure, along with the failure of all those who made the decision to bury their failures in the ground to be picked on by scavengers and to be left as rumor for someone else to dig up.
I see burials all the time. I mean burials of failure. When I ask how people are doing, usually I hear that they are doing fine. Buried in their mind is the fact that they might still be hungover that morning. Buried might be the fact that she’s been flirting with someone who’s not her husband. Deep and deep under layers of the past, buried deep in the dust, is an abortion. For another there’s the actual affair. Buried underneath is self-loathing. Deep inside is a sense of worthlessness. Hidden is our historical lack of love for even our own family. Our shame, our failures, our hidden agendas are covered and buried, and we bury them deep. On the surface, it’s life as normal, but what we don’t show our pastor (and what pastors don’t show their people) is ritual failure and fault.
People heard rumors that there were things buried in that landfill. They wanted to discover them and make them their own. Who would go looking for lost failures? Why not let them rot in their garbage grave? This is the God we have. He uncovers our shame. He digs deep and sees our lack of love for God, for neighbor, and even for ourselves. It was our deepest, darkest sin that Jesus had come to find. We would expect God to find our shameful acts and punish us for them? It’s what we deserve. Instead, He sends His Son to purchase these mounds of sin and contempt. He sends His Son to give the wealth of God’s Kingdom in exchange for plots of dust covered failure. He buys it all, digs himself a giant hole, and asks for it all to be poured over Him in burial.
As we celebrate Easter, we recall Advent, Holy Week, and especially the resurrection. We celebrate because, although Jesus Christ did die, He is Risen! What He paid for, He buried. Our failures, our deep, dark, devilish sins, and our contempt, have all been left in the deepest, darkest grave of Christ, never to be seen again by the Father. History is in the dirt again today. Even though you are dust, you are God’s treasure in Christ Jesus.