Friday, March 30, 2012

My Hoodie is the Cross I Bear

On Sunday, I will preach with a hoodie on. Some may view that an act paramount to walking in holy space adorned in baggy pants. I get the scorn felt by those devoted to keeping God’s house sacred. This is one of those times that call for doing what you have to do.

To be frank, I’m not one who is down with placing more emphasis then necessary on sanctifying holy space for the purpose of evoking a response from God. My theology is about reshaping the way folks think about the purpose of worship and the way our thoughts related to the space dedicated to worship impacts and interferes with our understanding of God.

I could spend days rendering a discourse regarding how our contemporary understanding of sacred space has forged a divide in the way we think about what it means to be the people of God. I’m going there here not to begin a discussion involving the legitimacy of people coming to worship wearing what they have in their closet, but to talk about why I’ve been compelled to ask folks to wear a hoodie on Sunday.

Wearing a hoodie on Passover is oozing theological language that can ultimately propel the Church, as a living vital instrument of God’s activity, back into the work of kingdom building. It speaks to what it means for Christ to position himself as a member of the human family, and to participate in the most agonizing act connected to our bodies – death –as a way to help us envision what it means to move past the burden of our living with the limits of our bodies.

If Advent is about incarnation, God participating in the human struggle, then the Passion Week is about our partaking with Christ in the activity of self-sacrifice. Put another way, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Easter is about our affirming our willingness to become the people of death and resurrection. More than a story about Jesus, it is the story of the Church.

You may ask what does that have to do with wearing a hoodie. My response is everything. As with all we do as the people of God, our challenge is to listen, understand, relate and participate in the burdens of those regarded as the least of these. If Christ came for the broken, shouldn’t we commit to living with and sharing with those deemed voiceless by those who maintain the power? Shouldn’t we become more like them as a way of identifying with the transformative work given the Church?

Thus, the hoodie is a symbol of brokenness and alienation. On Sunday, it is the cross I carry. Why, again you ask. This is what death looks like. This is what innocence looks like. This is what shame and stereotyping looks like. I’m taking on the image of rejection while calling on the spirit of transformation.

The hoodie is the cross I bear on Sunday. There are numerous symbols of death and hatred that demand our consideration. These symbols of hatred and alienation have approached that road less traveled. They are worn by those labeled the tare in the presence of the wheat or the devil in the presence of the Lord.

It’s time for us to strip ourselves of the symbols of our privilege and clothe ourselves with the pictograms of separation. Isn’t this what it means to pick up a cross?

I will wear my hoodie on Sunday. I will take on the image of a thug to set those labeled as thugs free from the power of that perception. Hopefully, I won’t be the only one.


  1. I'm sorry but unfortunately I don't quite share your view on a hooded sweat shirt, it just is what it is a hooded sweat shirt that's been around for years. I'm not to sure how people are putting that much emphasis on these kids being thugs because they wear a hooded sweatshirt. They are comfortable, economical, as ell as priced reasonable. I think if we are going to continue to place that much emphasis on our kids being thugs because of what they choose to wear (particularly a hoodie), then the world will view them the same. So in essence I guess I am a little surprised how we we got from a simple hoodie to pulpit. WE (meaning African Americans) are so quick to judge with our very own GOD, that some times the big picture is missed

    1. Anonymous, it may help for you to read my previous blog, "Blame it on the hoodie." There I discuss what sounds to be your same thoughts related to this issue. Let me know what yo think.