This Lent I have been following along with the journal, Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John; I have been struck by how the themes of John speak to what is going on in the world today. It hasn’t escaped me that this past weekend’s #MarchForOurLives occurred the day before Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus marched into Jerusalem to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God and challenge the status quo. The words that have spoken to me in the readings (and nightly news) these past weeks have been: testify, witness, declare, action. Jesus is among us again as a high school student.
“We declare to you . . . what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” ––1 John 1:1
I live a pretty privileged life. While I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and put myself through college while working some pretty tough jobs, I haven’t had to march for my life. I have had my share of participating in demonstrations, holding signs, and chanting with the crowd––but then I’ve had the luxury of going back home to a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a family to surround me with love.
This Lent I have also been reading Debby Irving’s Waking Up White as part of #ECCT’s Mission Council living into a diocesan resolution about racial reconciliation––another gospel value in which I am often called up short on. I’ve been complicit to the state of race relations in America due to my being white. My father probably benefited from the GI Bill to purchase the home I grew up in. The family antiques in my home are probably from the spoils of privateers in the War of 1812. Marching for justice can’t change or make up for that. The change needs to come in my everyday words and actions––personally, not corporately. The word “reparations” comes to mind, but I can’t quite wrap my head around what that might be for me.
I wonder, as the SSJE brothers have asked this Lent, what is my testimony about God and God’s love for the world? My Lenten discipline has forced me to look at myself in new ways: how am I truly acting as a disciple of Christ? (Hmmm – discipline / disciple – any connection?)
I’m having a hard time these days reconciling my beliefs and how I conduct my life, relationships, and practices while living in a protective bubble. I can talk the talk and sometimes walk the walk, but am I really willing to go to the cross?
I will again this year (as I have since my youth) immerse myself in the actions of Holy Week. I participated as one of the crowd on Palm Sunday crying out, “Crucify him!” I will attend Maundy Thursday’s worship and re-member that last supper and share in the Body and Blood of Christ, the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation. I will sit quietly in the pew on Good Friday to hear the Passion yet again, with Jesus dead on a cross as I leave in silence. And Saturday will be a typical day of errands and house cleaning as I prepare for family to gather at worship (again) to celebrate the resurrection, along with Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies. I know I can’t have Easter without going through the events of Holy Week. But this year I feel more uncomfortable than usual.
Am I just going through the motions? How am I testifying to God’s love by my words and actions? Does going to church weekly let me off the hook? Do I continue to simply change my Facebook profile picture as a means to testify to the Gospel? How do I bear Jesus’ cross in a real way, not by holding a demonstration sign or writing my congressperson, but by doing that internal work that Jesus calls me to by word and example?
Some days I just want to go back to that Caribbean beach and bury my head in some mystery novel. However, the world remains broken and Christ keeps calling me back to the reality of this world.
Send me into the world, so that, like you,
I may bear witness to God’s light and life.
Turn me loose, Lord, to be a channel of your love,
and instrument of your compassion,
a minister of your grace. Amen. (#SSJE)
*This reflection was written as part of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church’s (Wilton, CT) lenten reflection series. You can read them all here.
** The image above, “Broken Christ” (Cristo Roto). is located in San Jose de Gracia, in Aguascalentes, Mexico. It is a bronze sculpture of Christ without arms and legs, a mutilated Christ without a cross. Beneath the 82 feet high statue is written the following:
“Leave me broken…
I’d like that when you look at me broken like this,
you’d remember many of your brothers and sisters
who are broken, poor, indigent, oppressed, sick, mutilated…
Without arms: because they are incapacitated, left without any means to work; without feet: because they are impeded to walk their way;
without face: because they have been robbed of their honor and prestige.
They are forgotten… those who see them turn away
since they are like me – a broken Christ!”