Friday, April 18, 2014
I was fighting back the tears during the Good Friday service today. I usually try to avoid thinking about the suffering of Jesus on the cross because I cannot bear it. It makes my soul shudder. If I had been one of the disciples I would have run away too. There's no way I would have been able to bear witness to such pain. The cross has been sanitized by the church these days. Many churches feature shining crosses of silver, bronze or even gold. But the cross that Jesus bore was no sanitized cross and the crucifixion Jesus endured was no sanitized experience. It was horrifically violent with a brutality that not only marred the body on the cross, but the soul of every person who witnessed it. It was a scandal. It was the best way the Romans knew how to completely humiliate and dehumanize its enemies and it was effective.
I was fighting back the tears in church because I realized that Jesus was not the first person to be crucified and he certainly wasn't the last. We live in a world where those in power are obsessed with crucifying their victims. I don't believe that it was the wrath of God that brought Jesus to the cross. Was it the wrath of God that led to the extermination of the native peoples in America? Was it the wrath of God that caused African slaves to endure the horror of the Middle Passage and then a lifetime of slavery? Was it the wrath of God that caused bloated black bodies found hanging from trees during the Jim Crow era in the South? Is it the wrath of God that causes women to be oppressed so men can maintain power? Is it the wrath of God that necessitates the destruction of communities of people of color all over the world so that white western men can maintain their power? Is it the wrath of God that demands that LGBT people be crucified so that straight people can feel normal?
No! God never crucified anyone. All of the crucifixions mentioned above were done by people so desperate to maintain power that they failed to see human beings as human beings. They themselves forget their own humanity and became monsters inflicting horrible violence and cruelty upon others who never deserved their crucifixions.
I believe that God has a dream for this world. I believe that God imagines a world where there are no more crosses. A world where the poor are not crucified to maintain the lifestyles of the rich; a world where women are not told that they are less than; a world where power over the many lays not in the hands of the few. Are we bold enough to join God in this dream? Do we have the capacity to imagine a world without violence and oppression? May God hep us all to imagine and make reality a world where there are no more crosses.
Following the Way,