This Lent, we've been putting just a bit more effort into cultivating a worshipful space for our Sunday worship. So, we've added a bunch of candles, some purple cloth, and pictures - or icons - of Christ...a new one added each week we've worshiped together.
Those of you worship participants who have been paying attention - and I do believe that's all of you - have noticed that none of the images of Jesus are caucasian. You see them here.
There's Immigrant Jesus, Black Jesus, "Muslim" Jesus (weird to read, I know, but Muslims hold that Jesus was a prophet), and Native American Jesus.
As I explained to a student following worship Sunday evening, each has been intentionally selected based on the concerns of our day: talk of building a wall, Black lives not mattering, xenophobia against Muslims, dishonoring treaties with the native peoples of this land (Exhibit A: the Dakota XL Pipeline).
These images of Jesus are political because Jesus was political. Indeed, because he was political, he got himself killed. Some mistakenly think that because of our rich history of separating church and state that we should avoid getting political in the pulpit or in the "fellowship hall." Yet our life together gathered in Christ's name and - in baptism - bound to his life AND death necessitates that we engage the public square.
The mistake is in assuming that the risen Christ is a registered Republican or (less frequently assumed) a registered Democrat.
When we would-be followers gaze upon Jesus, the disordered hope each of us hold is that we'll see a Christ created in our preferred image: usually a straight, dreamy, blue-eyed Jesus of European decent who can be admired by us for conforming to or notion of things.
In the coming days, the Church is about to be confronted with the truth about Jesus, the Christ. That he is the world's scapegoat - ostricized because of his politics.
He is the one we'd prefer to wall out.
His life ultimately matters little to his closest friends.
He is betrayed and dishonored.
His extreme love for all is banished...
driven up a Hill...
nailed to a Cross.
All this unfolds not privately but publicly...as he refuses to allow fear, hate, and lust for power to hold him back from his saving mission: to dismantle all that separates humanity from God and neighbor.
As we move through Palm/Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil, may we see not the Christ we've foolishly fashioned in our own image; rather, may we see the one who bestows his own cruciform image of LOVE upon us.
Grace to you....pb