Friday, April 14, 2017
I learned about the launching of the big bomb in the middle of doing a radio show. It followed a high moment of laughter. I can’t remember what I said, but Valerie Whitted and Karl Blake Patterson rolled on the floor and laughed out loud in response as the music played.
It was a much needed break from the lunacy that has come to define our days. Questions about Putin, being dragged on a plane and a myriad of other headlines has made it tough to play. Yes, we needed the break. The music helped.
“I love hearing your smiley faces,” Val Jones, a local poet and weekly contributor on the Creative Colorful People radio show on WCOM, said. “It’s what I needed given what just happened.”
What happened? We hadn't heard
The news hit us hard and sucked the smiles off our faces like we’d been hit by a big dude holding a two by four.
The obvious questions followed. I wanted to cuss. I wanted to scream. I did.
Then it hit me.
It’s Maundy Thursday, a day on the Christian calendar that forces those connected to the big c Church to contemplate how our sin impacts and impedes the work of Christ. It’s the day we question our motives and assumptions related to the work of the Church. On this day, we ponder how each of us participates in manipulating and executing the teaching of Christ.
How does a Christian find the doggedness required to press the button to launch that huge bomb? How does a Christian do that during the Passion Week? How can we, as Americans responsible for the deaths of men, women and children all over the world, deny how these acts interfere with our high season of spiritual cleansing?
How do we forget Jesus demand – if you deny my desire to wash your feet, you have no part of me? How do we forget the words in the upper room – one of you will betray me. All of you will deny me. You will witness me tolerate extreme punishment followed by my execution. You will say nothing. You will do nothing.
You will forget my teachings and hide among those who requested my death.
The Passion Week reminds the Church of its silence. It forces us to ruminate on a long history of apathy. With each act of terror – the Church was there. With each pride consumed act of rage – America has asserted assumptions of Christian privilege to intimidate other nations.
You can’t do this during our sacred season. You can’t wave the American flag, sing “God Bless America”, while a weapon of mass destructions falls on God’s children in Afghanistan. Not during our holy season.
Not when people are praying to understand lessons related to Jesus’ execution. What role do we play whenever the teachings of Jesus are sacrificed for a national agenda? What happens when the voice of Jesus is relegated in the promotion of an idea that makes America the Christian role model for the world? What are we, Americans who advance a political cause that seeks to execute Muslims, teaching about the life and ministry of Jesus?
The Passion Week is about the silence of the Church. It helps us consider how our silence has showed up historically. It showed up when the Church was silent regarding the execution of Native Americans. It happened when the Church used scriptures to promote slavery. It happens when scriptures are used to silence women.
Yes, the physical body of Jesus was killed. In executing Jesus, the aim was to silence his teaching. Thus, the Passion Week reminds us of how the teachings of Jesus are continually silenced by those who participate in the work of the Church.
Not this time. We have learned our lesson. Not during our week of prayer!
“Play one of those Gil Scott Heron songs,” Whitted said as we approached the end of the show. “He talked a lot about war.”
Blake played one of those songs. I can’t remember the song or the lyrics. Another song penetrated my mind.
“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
The answer is yes.
It happened on yesterday.