Saturday, April 4, 2015

The way of the Cross

Yesterday morning some well-intentioned local meteorologist posted a shot of the radar showing from the National Weather Service with the question "What do you suppose is causing that cross near our radar?" While some people surmised about geese, cars, or aliens, there were, predictably, some who said "Well of course, it's Good Friday! It's God showing his love for us!" Which begs the question, why was God wasting his time showing his love to a bunch of comfortable, middle-class American Christians while half a world away letting nearly 150 people, many of them Christians, die at the hands of al-Shabab?

It also raises the question, which is more like the true message of the cross? Is it the warm pat on the back from God, the celestial affirmation that borders on the superstitious? Or is the message of the cross wrapped up in blood and nightmare, violence and loss, and the voices of a broken world calling out, "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

The cross is only joy because we know what comes tomorrow. We know that what was done on the cross did something in the unseen spiritual world. For some, that's enough. But the reality is, we are still living in a Saturday world. We've seen the world ripped apart at its seams and the cross isn't enough to convince us there will be a resurrection at the end. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

It's the gay Christian, spurned by the church that he loved. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

It's the teen struggling to be loved, cutting herself open to let the pain flow out. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

It's the mothers teaching their black sons to be polite, to be MORE, to reach a standard not imposed on their friends so that they come home at night. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

It's the children, forced to flee homes for their faith, starving and cold in the refugee camps. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

It's the ones who go to war, and the ones they war against. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

It's the fathers holding a baby who has just breathed her last. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

It's this whole mess of humanity, with all of our hurts, our aches, our wonderings and our not-knowings, looking for a sign. "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

And the warm and fuzzy, the cross in the radar and Jesus in a piece of toast, they just aren't going to cut it any more. Because it's Saturday and we are living in this cross-shadowed world and it is broken.


We will wake up tomorrow morning and we will celebrate the rest of the story. Jesus, conquering death, saving the world. And yet...we're still living in Saturday. Two thousand years later and it's STILL Saturday. STILL waiting for the promise of a world made new where pain and sorrow are no more, where the lion lies down with the lamb and there will be no sickness, no killing, no death on all God's holy mountain. And all I know for sure is, I'm tired of trying to squint to see the cross in the radar map when my feet want to carry me out to sit with the ones calling the darkness, "My God, my God...have you forsaken me?"

*Photo of refugee girl by Zoriah via Flickr creative common license.

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