Good Friday Homily - Progress

April 14, 2017

 

 

These events were so long ago and so far away…

 

The power and brutality of the first century Roman Empire had come to control nearly the entire known world.  They conquered the world, spreading the dream of PAX ROMANA, the Roman peace… those that wouldn't join the empire voluntarily were bullied and terrorized - economically, politically, militarily - until they would relent, but those who resisted or violated the world that Rome was trying to build were eradicated.  

 

Jesus stood in opposition to their political dream, becoming a threat to the empire.

 

This required his execution.

 

-

 

The power and brutality of the first century religious establishment carved out for itself hegemonic power in the land of Judah by means of kowtowing to the Romans, playing politics, and silencing opposition.  They conquered their people through the use of religious power, shame, guilt, and fear - enslaving the people of God to rules and laws.  Those who resisted or violated the world that the religious establishment was trying to build were eradicated….

 

Jesus stood in opposition to the religious bludgeoning of the people, becoming a source of freedom and a threat to their power.

 

This required his execution.

 

-

 

Luckily for us, we have developed so much since these long ago times and far off places.

 

We no longer feel the need to crucify our enemies. No.

 

We have found more efficient and impersonal ways of disposing of human life,

from Zyklon B to sarin gas, Little Boys to M.O.A.B.s., drive-bys to drones.

 

We have come such a long way…

 

Gone are the days of a single small group of religious leaders controlling communities through shame and fear…who villainize those who act, live, think, or worship differently.

 

Today there are at least 140 (I googled it) Christian churches in the city of Decatur that you can choose from… If someone doesn't like you at one, or they don't do things the way you like, just go to a different one… The difficulty of being vulnerable in community is a struggle of the past. Now if you are uncomfortable, you can just leave; now if I am uncomfortable with you, I can make you leave.  

 

In fact there is an exciting new group you can join, the fastest growing religious demographic in the country: those who mark NONE next to religious affiliation.

 

No accountability. No conflict. No community. No problems.

 

We have come such a long way…

 

...or maybe we haven't.

 

Maybe we are just as ambitious as the Romans, just less messy….

 

Maybe the loss of deep and committed community is the reason for the escalating rates of suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, and porn addiction in our nation.

 

Perhaps the reason we need to come together on Good Friday is not for the sake of good, traditional piety, but to ask the question:

 

Which kingdom do we want to be a part of?

 

… the kingdom of power and control

(over our lives, our situations, our environments, our finances, our security)

 

… or the Kingdom of the crucified God who calls us to love our enemy, pray for our persecutors, welcome the refugees, care for the powerless, and to discover true life in the act of taking up our own cross.

 

These are serious times.

This is a serious question.

We sit at the foot of a serious cross.

 

And for those of us who wish to seek the Kingdom of God-

 

We have chosen a seriously difficult path,

and have a serious amount of work to do…

 

Will you pray with me:

 

Crucified God, help us to trust in You, in Your power, in Your weakness, in Your calling, and in Your Kingdom…

 

Today as I look at the state of the world and the state of our churches I beg…

 

We beg…

 

Father forgive us, we clearly don't know what we are doing.


 

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