It was two years ago during Lent that I had the thought, 'I have a long way to go before I'm actually like Jesus, but my enemies sure look a lot like his enemies.' How sad it is to think that some two thousand years after Christ was crucified, the religious elite has not quite figured out that "enemy" should never be a term to describe us. Yet we insist on becoming as such, even if the label seems not to fit us.
So here is my question: crucify or crucified? This is a question that I believe is at the core of our faith and should remain ever present in our life and living. Will we crucify or will we be crucified? How do others experience us? How do others experience you? And before the thought, 'I am not responsible for how others perceive me,' creeps in, be assured, you are. We are called to be ambassadors. We are called to be representatives. We are called to be Christ. We are called to be the crucified ... and no crucified person ever crucified another.
The church does not have a reputation for laying down its life for "the other." The church, from those outside of it (at least in my experience), has a reputation of brutally stripping others of their dignity, of their lives. Wielding the power and control that we have been afforded to inflict the most brutal of trauma on those who are most vulnerable, on those who are not "us." We sing "and they'll know we are Christians by our love," but "they" do not.
These Covid days have been filled with solitude and reflection ... and it appears as though this will continue for the near future. What are we doing with the time that has been afforded us? Are we wasting this crisis or are we using it for the formational and transformational value it can afford us? Who will we be and how will we be different when we are able to gather together as the body of Christ once again? Will we fall back into old habits or will we blaze a new trail, correcting the damage we've done - bringing new life - before we fixate on the damage we feel others have done to us?
In a way, I want to apologize for such a dark reflection, but it's Lent ... one of the darkest times in the church year. We literally sing to Christ, "I crucified you." And it is only in contrast to the darkest of nights that morning's light brings any relief.
It was two years ago during Lent that the darkest of days began giving way to the light that was coming. As I sat in my new church, I was completely aware of my brokenness and the brokenness that had been inflicted upon me. But as Christ's resurrection proclaims, brokenness and death are not the end of the story.
It was also two years ago, on Easter Sunday, that the light shone brighter than I could remember it shining in quite a while. As I sat in that church, the room was beyond electric. Several people from communities that the church has marginalized over the centuries led the service, along those from the privileged cisgender, white, heterosexual majority. A woman read the readings, a person of color led the prayers, a queer member of the clergy preached the Word. It was beyond beautiful. And although not everyone in that room agreed with one another, we all were transformed together. On that Easter Sunday, the crucified brought new life.