Jesus, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant us your peace.

For whatever reason, this week’s readings gave me a great deal of trouble. Despite, or perhaps because our gospel reading carries one of scripture’s most famous verses, I found myself struggling with what to say.

It’s easy to be glib. It’s just as easy to be dismissive of this verse that Luther called “the Gospel in miniature.” It’s easy to gloss over what’s going on here. It’s easy enough to make some sort of transcendental move that in one swift move cleans up the muck and filth of this confounding, foolish, toe-stubbing gospel.

And yet this is precisely what St. Paul warns us against. This story makes no sense. This story, if you dare to wrestle with it, will trip you up. Try to play it cool in your daily life, acting like the gospel is somehow rational, or wise, and it’s pointed out rather quickly that it is not.

There’s no marketing company out there who could sell this nonsense. The very fact that we call it good news does not even compute in our escapist culture, a culture so fixated on youth, glamour, upward mobility and success that the very earthy, grounded, life-and-death message of the cross is outright rejected.

In a world seeking transcendence, and in a world seeking escape, the message of the cross calls us down from our mountaintops and soapboxes to embrace a broken saviour as we follow Jesus on his journey towards the cross.

And as I stared at the Crucifixion window this afternoon, I felt my resolve melt. It’s obvious why people mock those signs at sporting matches. It’s foolishness. All foolishness.

There is nothing I can say to make this make sense. There is no argument I can make or apologetic I can employ to once and for all prove why this gospel is good news.

He came with no political agenda.
Or rather, he came with no political agenda
like we’d seen or heard before
Stumped and mystified,
each and every time he opened his mouth
we widened our eyes
staring with disbelief
wrestling with brief
waves of doubt:
were we going the wrong way?
do his words ring truth?
will this path lead to life,
or more than likely certain death?

We long for peace.

But under occupation, captivity
is more than military
Hearts, souls and minds
entangled in binding paralysis
waves of fear
trembling here as
imaginations scramble and struggle,
wrestling to break free.

delivered at the hands of an occupying force:
consciences unconsciously colonized by
corporate-sponsored cartels, these
captors whose ads fuel dreams of better
all the while driving us to feel worse.

Long before
anyone had heard of Stockholm
and its captive syndrome
Christ and his cross preached freedom
for those who are near
and those far off

Christ preached peace
no flimsy accord
negotiated in boardrooms between the
world’s warlords
but holistic, all-encompassing shalom
in the community of creation

Christ preached reconciliation
calling settlers to seek
forgiveness as
the truth is exposed

Christ preached welcome
for widows and orphans
for children and teachers
for those this world and its leaders
choose time and again to leave behind

Christ preached love
love but not a victory march
love so amazing, so divine
demands my soul, my life, my all.