Who Do You Say That I Am?

rhizome  He came into this world with little more than a story, surrounding him like the swaddling wrapped about him at his birth. By then the news of his coming was already running rampant across the countryside. The stories taking on a life of their own. Told, retold, ancient memories coming to life in the darkness of Israel’s winter.

Reach back over the two thousand years of debris that cover his story, back over the institutionalization of the soul, ritualization, dogma, defense, legend and myth, to the words, the Word that became flesh in the story of his life.

Before his birth his people made their long journey across the wilderness forming a sacred identity. Israel’s journey changed her. The story of this journey informed the Hebrew nation as it unfolded over time. Over time the story was knit and reknit, a weave of many colors that would unravel and be reshaped again and again. Eventually it took on mythical proportions that no longer looked like the covenant woven by the Lord God of Israel. As Israel strayed farther and farther from the heart of her identity, the Lord God of Israel unraveled into a distant silence as well. The silence drove John mad, drove him into the wilderness. Irony of ironies. One Hebrew alone in the desert now.

Into this silence came the Word; the Word that created, the Word that led, the Word that shaped and formed Israel into Yahweh’s own. To start over? Not exactly. But to reknit, to restore, rekindle, the true faith of Israel.  He came made of the cloth of humanity, a man, who would carry within him the promise. By his life he touched the people with words, with healing and more importantly with his presence. He embodied the faith of Israel keeping the promise Yahweh made to Abraham, to extend that faith to all the nations of the world, even the gentile nations. And yet, he too would be misunderstood.  He would challenge the powers that be, both religious and political, and in the end, his mission could not be sustained. Undaunted, the Lord God of Israel, whom he called Abba, would not let misunderstanding or death defeat his plan for his people. His a promised kept.  And so one fine Monday morning, when all seemed lost, his friends, weary and sleepless from their own betrayal and bewilderment, saw him, walking beside them, tending a fire by the shore, beckoning a woman to rise, as if proving himself to them, yet again, reaching beyond the boundaries of nature in order to call forth meaning from the dark tomb of their ignorance. From this seed a faith sprang up around him, vestiges of himself, fumbling forward for two thousand years, a rhizome swept away in whatever current paradigm it found to pitch its tent, shifting, sifting, defending, wending its way across the wilderness once more.

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Jesus’ Last Words

 IMG_0318 Today is Good Friday. That it is called ‘good’ has puzzles many people. Perhaps we could call it God Friday. For me today is not the day to enter into a theology of Jesus’s death and dying. Today is for me a day to follow him up the Appian Way, stand at the foot of the cross and watch the sky turn dark and just be in the emptiness that ensures. The emptiness of a world without Jesus.

In Luke’s gospel the last words of Jesus are ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ These last words are words of trust. These last words are words that acknowledge Jesus giving himself over to his Father. Another translation reads ‘Into the hands of thee, I commit the spirit of me.’ It is poetry. In these words Jesus’ spirit is put directly into God’s hands. Spirit to hands. Jesus to the Father. One sacred human reality committed to the ultimate reality of all life. From a cradle manger to the cradle of God’s hands. Catching him as he falls from life. His last breath returning to the breath of God. In another forty days or so the spirit of Christ will come back into the world to be spread by his followers across the world. To enable a life in Christ that can be given to all who want it. In the last moments of his death Jesus is telling us the term of his life. He is telling us about the term of our lives as well.

Today, with his last breath breathed out, the spirit of Jesus is firmly, squarely placed into the hands of the God of the Life, his Father, Creator of the world, who in the beginning formed the earth and the human person from clay by the work of his hands. Today God’s hands have been rendered immobile, nailed down by fear and misunderstanding. Nailed down by those who feared he was going to upset their smooth running apple cart, the bed they had made with the Romans. God’s spirit was breathed into Adam to give him/us life. Today it is this same spirit breathed out across the universe creating the world anew in Jesus’s last breath. He gives up his spirit and is gone. He gives up his spirit and gives us at last to truly be a part of him. He gives us new life, more life, a life made whole in him. More Jesus.



Good Friday

The sword that pierced Mary’s heart

was the sword that would pierced her son’s side,

their hearts the saving symbol of the heart of God

intent upon loving the world from the manger to the altar of the cross,

where worship is no longer only a mother’s song but the very body

and being of her son.

Mary’s first prayer will be Jesus’ last.

As he prays to his heavenly Father

in the garden at Gethsemane before his death,

Jesus utters let it be as you would have it. 

As Mary accepted his life,

he too will accept his death,

 from mother to son,

the faithful surrender to God’s design for their lives.

As Jesus took his last breath,

a lone centurion stands beneath him,

see the man, seeing the truth of him,

his first Roman follower,

worshipping him in the place

where a voice has gone silent.

In one, silent still moment

birthed on Calvary

the heart of God and

And the heart of humanity

hung together.

In the womb of the world

and the embrace of his Father,

arms reached out to the world

where God came home

and humanity is no longer homeless.