|Willamette River, 2017|
The following is the meditation I shared at St. Andrew Lutheran tonight at the Good Friday service. We did the seven last words of Jesus, and my passage was the Luke 23:32-34 below.
Luke 23:32-34 (NRSV): Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. And they cast lots to divide his clothing.
Today I took a walk and strode past sleeping bodies on park benches and in doorways. I averted my eyes, ashamed and overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who need help. I saw one man from the other side of the street while he wiped away several tears.
Today I read the headlines of cruelty against so many people here and around the world. More than I can count. More than I can handle. I don’t even know what to do with my outrage and powerlessness, my fatigue and my broken hearted-ness.
Today, in this service, we hear about the death of a man who, in his ministry, really saw people. Jesus looked into the eyes of each one, whether they lay on the street begging, or sat in a house of power counting money and influence. He fully saw all of their joys and hopes, their sins and their sorrows. And he loved them all. Even those he confronted. He loved them all, and they crucified him for it.
Today I think about all of the people I don’t see, don’t want to see, or don’t want to forgive. I haven’t forgiven those who drive the wheel that generates the conditions of poverty and homelessness, those who seek war instead of peace, those who say a harsh word, or those who are cruel bullies. I don’t even want to forgive myself for, without a word, sliding past the homeless man hiding from the rain in my doorway the other day.
I am so angry and heartbroken with our world, which continues to crucify to this day. Yet, even as Jesus was crucified with criminals, Jesus forgives. He sees, and he loves those who called for his death. Our God is compassionate. Our God forgives, restoring relationships and wholeness, even to my enemies, even to me.