My holy week began in a simple rural church in Iowa. With crowds of farming families I chanted “crucify him, crucify him.” My voice shook with shame. It’s not pretend, it’s prayer. Tears welled up within. Why did the Church design it that I have to be the one who sentences my love to death?
Stone-cold statues of the stations of the cross lined the peaceful church. In each, I see a face of Jesus etched with history and sorrow. Jesus leans over an angel and looks at me in the pew, praying with questions. Suffering is redemptive, I’ve learned. Emotions stew within as I think of my love beaten, bruised, bloody, broken.
I sang “Hosanna” and held crisp, spring green branches but knew where the story was going next. I knew about the cross, the death and the resurrection. Except for the cooing children, I think we all did. Yet, we’re intense. It’s ugly to face it: Love nailed to death.
As I gaze upon the cross this week, I shall consider all the hurt that I know. I have been hurt and I have hurt others, at times I have even hurt myself. The hurt of all humanity and creation stares back at me from the wood of the cross.
It’s personal and universal. Personally, I have turned away from my love every time; I’ve allowed my good intentions to get clouded by pride, selfishness and lies. Together, our social sins continually crush earth and community onto bloody boards. The body of Christ is wounded. We are that body.
Our eyes sting with the truth that love hurts. I ache and I remember that the journey of the cross is the story that we live everyday. These are the moments of our community. It’s not tidy at all, nor crisp with clarity.
The dust stirs on the statues. Chipped memories acknowledge that redemption began with the incarnation. He came to love, live, set free and therefore die. It’s because His love was so bold and non-violent that he was killed. I am stuck in the story.
Hurt throbs through the questions. Do I really understand? Am I willing to die for what he lived? Can I? Am I?