One on each side…

041314_1740_ACrossBetwe1.jpg    At least the blood at stopped pooling at the foot of his cross.

    As a mother, I had seen many scrapes and cuts on my little boy’s body. I had seen blood pour from his forehead one day when he tripped in the street and cracked his head on the rocks. It was a bloody mess. It ruined the clothes he had on that day.

    But it was nothing compared to this. When the spikes first went through his wrists, the blood poured across the wooden crossbeam and pooled in the rocks below. After they lifted the beam and attached it to the upright, the blood still poured from the wounds in his wrists.

    I couldn’t stop watching it.

    But amazingly, in what seemed like hours ago, it stopped. The wounds were there in his wrists and if he fidgeted too much, or tried to lift himself to breathe easier, it would start again. But never much. Maybe it had run out. Maybe the blood couldn’t reach that high in his body anymore. I don’t know. I just know my son had stopped bleeding. It wasn’t much. He would still die. But somehow this little fact comforted me.

    And if only he would quit moving…quit being restless…quit talking…maybe that horror wouldn’t begin again.

    He always was a restless boy. Never content to stay still. Even at the foot of his cross, I could remember him as a child going all through the neighborhood, always a following of other kids with him. They would run the streets and play their games but he was never one to stick to any game for long. He would not come home until someone physically brought him home. “He’s got a restless spirit,” his father would say. But somehow I thought it was endearing, this energy, my child, my boy had. I even remembered the time he convinced others that we had said it would be okay for him to stay the night. Oh, the fright when we found he was missing. We thought he was gone for good. But that time would wait until this day.

    I sat there in the shadows on this passing day and remembered his growing up. The changes. The restlessness turning to moodiness. The moodiness turning to anger. The anger turning against his family.

    I knew he ran around with a dangerous and different crowd. Some of them were prostitutes, both male and female and some were just petty criminals. I didn’t know what my son was but I knew he was still restless, still looking for something, for someone to accept who he was.

    What I didn’t know would come out at his so called trial. My son, my restless wandering boy, had turned to a life of crime and offense of our laws. He stole. He lied. He did things that I could not bear to hear. But none of them changed my love for him. I would stand by him. I would bear this shame on my knees – the shame of my love for my child.

And oh, how those around me stood in judgment. Not only would my son be killed for his offenses, but his family was kicked out of the synagogue. We were told not to return, even after his death. Somehow, what he was tainted us as well. It didn’t matter to me, though. I loved him still.

    Oh, how I wish I had controlled him a bit more when he was younger now. Maybe without the restlessness and all that followed it, I could somehow have avoided this day. And maybe he wouldn’t keep moving on that cross. I know he was leaving. I didn’t want him to leave. But I wanted him to be at peace. I cried for his peace.

    Somewhere in the midst of my tears, I heard one of the others being killed talking. Another said something and I heard my son tell the first to be quiet. He said, “We are getting what we deserve, but this man did nothing.” And the man in the middle said the strangest thing. He looked at me and then looked at my son and said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” I did not know this man but I heard the rumors swirling around him. He was a teacher, a rabbi, who was stirring people up and had to be killed. Strange words from a rabble-rouser. If anything, his words showed more compassion for my son than any religious person had ever shown.

    My son stared at the man in the middle for what seemed like an eternity. He never moved a muscle while he watched him. He relaxed. His breathing evened out. His struggle stopped.

    And so did the blood.

    Eventually, I heard the soldiers coming. They were clearing the way so they could break the legs of those being crucified and hurry their deaths. They checked one of the men and broke his legs – oh, the screams he made. I wished my son would die before they got to him, but still he looked on the man in the middle.

    The soldiers checked that man and found he was dead. His mother cried out and I knew her pain but I wished, oh how I wished they would have stayed longer checking on him. I knew what would come next.

    The soldier’s reached my son’s cross and he moved his eyes from the man in the middle and looked at me. There wasn’t a muscle moving when they hammered at his legs. I waited for his screams, but nothing came. He looked at me, looked at the man in the middle, and breathed his last breath.

    I thought I would cry. I expected to wail. But I didn’t. My son, my son had found peace at last. If I cry in the future, it will only be because he had not found it until that man in the middle spoke to him words of hope and words of love.

    My son…my restless son…had found peace.

…one on each side … John 19:18

A Cross Between Two Thieves

Not my will, but yours…

    I know that I have heard these words hundreds, if not thousands of times in my life in the church. They are words of Jesus as he prays before being arrested. They are words of Jesus as his closest disciples fall asleep. However, most of the time that these words hammer through the noise of my brain, I hear them as words of surrender and resignation on the part of Jesus. Today, for whatever reason, I heard the deep seated struggle of will that is inherit in these words.

    Jesus, really, really struggled to let go of his own will and follow the will of God.

I am thinking about this not so much because of some struggle of will that I have in my personal life as a member of the Jesus Revolution. I have those struggles and I probably always will but they don’t upset me all that much. Today I was struck with these words as they described the relationship between two parts of the Triune God and what that could mean for Christian unity today. In my mind, there are few things more broken in our world than the idea of Christian unity. We simply suck at getting along with one another.

I get the sense from so many people that “being one, as the Father and I are one” – the very prayer Jesus had for his followers – is something that should be simple and easy for us to accomplish. I get that sense from those who say, “Just follow the Bible and we can have unity” as well as from those who say, “Just love like Jesus loved” and we will have the unity for which Jesus prayed. I think both groups – and I can be found lurking around in either from time to time – totally miss the real struggle the Son had with the Father over this picture of unity.

What if the unity found between Father and Son, between Jesus and the God-Head, is more akin to struggle than it is to a sense of peace. (Images of Jacob wrestling in the night for a blessing come to mind.) I know that we all want peace, but that is not what Jesus infers in the Garden, on the cross or even to us. Yes, he leaves us a “peace that is not like the world gives” but perhaps that peace is what we find when we allow grace to abound with ourselves (as we struggle in ourselves) and what we find when we allow grace to abound amidst the struggles we have with those whose idea of God’s will bumps up against a difference in our hearts.

Listen…I know that this is not a completely fleshed out, well-thought bit of theology I am espousing today. It is a start to say the very least. Perhaps you can add to the discussion. Perhaps I can capture it better in another use of language too:

 

The battle of will
is a thumping of the heart,
a throbbing of the mind,
and a bleeding of the soul.

Or so it seems. Or so it seems.

It is a battle, a battle among thieves:
One who steals freedom in the name of holiness
And
One who steals holiness in the name of freedom.

But maybe, perhaps maybe…
On those days when the battle wages
within and without
with an intensity that hurls invective and certainty
like arrows into the always soft flesh of the gut –
Perhaps, just maybe,
There is another war cry
A cry that is heard
among the wounded,
the stilted,
and even on the lips on the silent
as they breath with Spirit Sound
the truest cry of unity.

Grace.

Grace for self. Grace for others.
Grace like that offered by a Savior,
A Savior between two thieves.

 

©2014, Scott Sears

The Trap

There is a trap that waits –

    waits to spring its gnarled teeth out of the hearts

    of those who choose to love –

        choose to love, despite:

        differences,

        appearances,

        thoughts,

        and actions.

 

It’s teeth are those that gnash and lash
at those whose heart is already tangled
in knots,
in thoughts,
in endless, water-falling false hopes
of being right above all else.

 

The trap waits for all who choose the way of Jesus…

Lover of all…
Lover of those who follow…
Lover of those who fail…
Lover of those who get up again and again to love…
Lover of those of other flocks…
even the Lover of those caught in the knots, the thoughts,
the false hope of holiness on their own.

 

 

 

The way of love, love above all else
releases the trap with a harmless snap.

Yet drops upon the shoulders
the weight,
the heft,
the feel,
of a cross.

 

© 2014 Scott Sears

Served Two Ways

I can see righteousness…

in those who claim to do no wrong…

who hold the commandments

for all to see.

Who work without ceasing to have them posted

on walls

in courts

on public ground.

Who stand beside the written word of God

And silence the voices

Of women…of those perceived as created unequal…

Who silence the voices of the very ones who listen to the Word

but choose to bow to the Author, not the reader.

 

And I see righteousness…

    In those who stand beside:

the one about to die for crimes…

the couple whose love is shunned…

the homeless one whose whole buggy-bound world

    cannot be found in this world at all…

the one who is dying while holding the hand of her

    crying, angry child…

their husband of sixty-five years

    and steal a kiss in public…

no one in particular, but who stand:

    in love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness

    and self-control.

 

I see righteousness served two ways:

    From the hubris that is potently human;

    And from the very Spirit of Jesus

        that lives within.

 

 

For more please see Romans 6:8-11

 

 

The eyes of all

The sun stretches over the mountains
ready to offer this day a heartfelt hug.

Songs bounce on the wind from bird to bird to bird
to land in the ear of the Holy One.
Buds peak out of branches,
blushing against their grayish limbs.

Flowers – still waiting for showers of wind and rain

to baptize their petals – shout “Alleluia” nonetheless.

 

It’s the season of Lent – the world around me rejoices.

 

It’s the season of Lent – I shall join their chorus directed by God.

 

 

Based on Isaiah 49:8-15

© 2014, Scott Sears