Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Resurrection Impression

I am impressed that Jesus could walk through the walls of a locked room
to meet his frightened disciples.
I am more impressed that He can, and does, walk into the locked rooms of my heart,
the ones where my woundedness and sins hide in terror and shame
saying, "Shalom, peace be with you"
in the places where peace has not come for a very long time.

I am impressed that Jesus could just vanish
after blessing bread and breaking it
leaving Cleopas and his wife
then flying down the road back to Jerusalem
( Luke doesn't say who the companion is, but who else are you gonna be with when you invite someone home?).
I am more impressed that He handled this, and other meals
blessing simple things in profound ways
in such a memorable way
that the minute He broke the bread
they KNEW

I am impressed that Jesus went to such great lengths to demonstrate His bodily-ness
touching scars and eating fish
But I am more impressed
with the intimacy and the humor of this moment:
"Touch me.  Touch me where I am wounded;
and trust that I will touch and heal your wounds as well."
And the humor?
Can you see Jesus winking as He took the fish?
Already he has broken bread with Cleopas, and they have seen it,
now, a fish.
"Haven't we been here before?" His eyes seem to laugh
"Another desperate moment
complete with loaves and fishes?"

And I am most impressed
that all of this
happened with the very ones
who had bailed like rats off a sinking ship
whose despair had driven them down the road for home
and whose fear had locked them in a room, quaking as they waited for the sound of Roman boots.
That Jesus shares His resurrection victory
with the neediest and the least deserving.

I am impressed that the resurrection Jesus
even has room for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Believe In The Resurrection

Jesus said to Thomas
"Blessed are those who have not seen,
yet believe."
But I have seen.
I have touched the wounds
the executioner thought was fatal.
I have seen the resurrection re-enacted day by day.
I have seen people walk out of the grave of addiction
I have seen women walk out of the tomb of domestic violence
I have seen men get up from the deathbed of cancer
I have known those who have risen from the dead and homeless to find life and shelter
I have seen legislators rise from the death of cowardness to vote for what is true and good
I have seen the resurrection acted out
In 1000 smaller ways
So yes, I believe the resurrection that happened in that Garden so many years ago,
And I believe in the One that will come in the future for me and all creation
And raise us up in a new heaven and
a new earth
I have seen the resurrection
So I believe, not only in these
But in the resurrection of the body
And the life of the world to come.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Scars Of God

I had a rather spirited conversation on Facebook last night about his response to the 60 Minute presentation on the Legacy Museum that is opening in Birmingham, Alabama.  The museum pays special attention to the history of lynching in America during the Jim Crow period.  Over 4000 black persons were lynched during this time; not just in the south, but all over America.

You can find a CNN story on this museum here:

My friend was maintaining that the story, and the creation of the museum, fanned the flames of hatred and anger in a way that was unproductive.  I disagreed.

As we messaged back and forth it struck me that many of the same arguments that my friend was making, and that others have made about the Holocaust well as conversations about racism and anti-Semitism, could be made about the fact that the resurrected Jesus came back complete with scars.

We humans are creatures that thrive on denial and avoidance.  We don't want to talk about school shootings because "it's too soon."  We don't want to talk about the Holocaust because it "brings up bad memories."  We don't want to talk about slavery, or Jim Crow, or lynching because we think that black folks should "just put that stuff behind you cause it's all over."  We do this kind of thing as a culture as well as in our private lives.  Tragedy, trauma, and pain get swept under the rug and never discussed....sometimes for generations.

Jesus shows the disciples His scars as a proof that it is Him.  But it is also a reminder.  A reminder of where we can go in our sin and our woundedness, of what we can do to each other.  And a reminder of the lengths that God will go to so that we can be healed and restored.

God carries the scars of God's love for us.  It is a doorway into the deepest part of God's heart.

A Trilogy Of Scars

Overheard On The Friday After Easter

Scars, He came back with scars.
At least that's what I heard.
It's just not right I tell you,
stirring up all that unpleasant memory.
I'm not denying that it happened,
but we need to put all that awefullness
behind us.
Sure crucifixions used to happen
back then
But I've never crucified anyone, have you?
We need to move forward.
The least He could have done
Is clean up those scars, replace them
with a cheerful glow or something,
a halo maybe.

And Jesus said, "If they do this
when the wood is green,
what will they do in the dry?"

God Has Scars

God has scars
the marks of torture and death
that put God in the company
of every woman ever drug off by Boko Haram
Every Jew or gypsy or homosexual gassed in the ovens of the Nazis
Every black who hung from a lynching tree.
When Jesus meets them on the other side of the Jordan
He holds out pierced hands
and they fall into one another's arms.
Weeping for the hatred that marked,
but could not destroy
the truth of the story their scars tell

Be Careful Who You Show Your Scars To

Be careful who you show your scars to
Jesus, apparently, only showed His
to that group of closest friends.
If you go around just showing them
to anyone, you run the risk
That their only interest will be
the sadistic pleasure of listening
to the story of your flogging.
Mel Gibson made that mistake
in Passion of the Christ.
He missed the truth
that our scars are often the doorway
into the deepest ache of our hearts.

But sometimes it happens,
in the Holocaust Museum in Washington
or the Lynching Museum in Alabama,
A basement room AA meeting
or an upper room in Jerusalem,
That we share our scars
and others there will roll up their sleeves
To show us theirs and let us know
that we are not alone.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Two Poems For An Anguished Saturday

Early Morning

I think the Gospel writers
forgot some things about Saturday
in the joy of Easter Sunday.
The silent aching anger.
Maybe the men passed around a bottle
of Old Jerusalem whiskey
to dull the pain of being reminded
How close torture and sudden death
really are.
The stray bullet on the corner,
the bullied teen at the middle school,
the officer too eager to draw his gun.
One of them mumbles to himself
as he thinks of packing up and going back
to Galilee
"If they come for me in the morning,
they'll come for you in the afternoon."
While in the kitchen
the women
pack spices for anointing
and clothes to wash the body.
Trying to avoid the truth that they're going
not to an old one who has died
full of years
But to the mangled body
of one tortured to death
bloodied and broken.
A friend they had loved.
They will go
Like women have gone throughout the centuries
To prepare the body
of another crushed one.
One more day on the land of Empire.

Silent Saturday

I think I dread Saturday most of all.
That place of cold, bleak numbness
after garden
and cross.
After agonizing shuddered last breath,
body wrapped in linen
or body bag.
Laid in tomb
or coroner's wagon.
Forsaken, beyond alone.
Between Good Friday
and Easter... maybe
When God is doing
whatever God is doing
far away from where I can see
And feels no need to let me know.
When I remember
all the words and deeds I wish had been
in an effort to forget the ones I regret
While I gather my anointing spices
and my wash clothes
to take care of the body in the morning.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Hosanna, Save Us

This happened. Jesus entered Jerusalem this way. But it isn't just a one time thing. Jesus still comes in the middle of our world and our destress and we still cry out
Hosanna, Save Us

When the ordered world and it's institutions fail us
Hosanna, Save Us

When our trust in power, violence, and military might turns on us and becomes oppressive
Hosanna, Save Us

When we are trapped in behaviors that pull us away from relationship with God and each other,
Hosanna, Save Us

When the harms done to us through racism, sexism, or victimization become open wounds in our lives, destroying our trust and making us hate ourselves
Hosanna, Save Us

When society itself becomes an enslaving trap from which we are afraid we cannot escape
Hosanna, Save Us

From gun violence in our schools and on our streets that kills our children and makes targets of people of color and those who are marginalized by our society
Hosanna, Save Us

From leaders who lack courage, or who have sold out for money and power
Hosanna, Save Us

From everything that is life destroying, O God, and separates us from You
Hosanna, Save Us

No wonder they told Jesus to shut His people up. This is language that changes the world.

And it changes the world because God hears our cry. God gives God's own Self in Jesus to do what we cannot...and then invites us to be part of that redeeming work in the world.

But today, this Sunday, we point to the wounds, the sins, the oppressions we see in ourselves and in the world around us and we cry out
Hosanna, Save Us

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Poem To A Poem

O my poem, my child
Run out into the darkness
Throwing light on pain and heartbreak
Rage against the evil
That crushes the vulnerable
beneath it's feet.
Go where I cannot
Speak to hearts that I long to know
but am separated from by distance
and more.
Rebel against me
And go where I would not send you.
Go anyway
Tear through my intentions
And ride on the wings of Spirit
into the places you were meant to go.
You are not mine to possess.
Like any child, you are simply on loan
Til the time comes for you to fly.