Today, this high holy day, at liturgies worldwide, we will know no sacrifice at the banquet table.
Communion will be different, stirring up spiritual hungers to remind us of the pain of our loss, the awfulness of the absence of Christ. On this solemn day, an unusual ritual will file us forward; all of us are all called to reverence the cross.
For me, reverencing the cross is really a ritual of bizarre paradox. All at once, we grieve the death of our beloved Jesus and give thanks for the freedom his death has permitted us. We meditate on his wounds, the lashes, the whip cracks and the cries of anguish and celebrate his non-violent love so freely expressed. And, we kneel in awe and wonder and cry with an awareness that our sin caused his pain.
Ultimately, in the midst of paradox, this is the day for us to acknowledge our sins, simple and complex, which have created crosses for others. We ignored an opportunity to learn about an overwhelming social issue and enter into solidarity when we turned off the bad news. We became part of the crowd that yelled, “CRUCIFY.”
We refused to speak out against—or to even realize—the ways that we accept and allow racist systems to continue, economically and politically. We burdened others with heavy beams.
We wrongly decided to put our recyclable waste in the bin headed straight for the landfill. We cut wounds right into God’s creation.
We let selfishness consume us and ignored our coworkers in need of God’s mercy. We handed them a crown of thorns.
We didn’t learn to love our hurting, peaceful, Muslim neighbors and reacted to the news of another terrorist attack with cruel assumptions and accusations. We decided we didn’t want to love our enemies. We pounded them with nails of violence and judgment.
We gave into materialism and wasted our wealth on superficial pleasure, cheating on our fasting. A spear of greed pierced our side.
We are part of the picture of Jesus crucified. Rightfully, our hearts are sad and dark on this day.
Let us unite with Jesus on the cross, for his drops of blood reveal our sinful ways.
Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God and afflicted,
But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.