Sunday, July 14, 2013

That love your neighbor thing...

Have you ever wondered why Episcopalians bow for the part of the Nicean Creed that talks about the Incarnation of Christ and immediately stand all the way up when it talks about his trial and death?  (Who what?  Leslie?  What's a Nicean Creed? This:

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.)

The parts I have copied in RED, we bow for, the parts in blue, the parts we all generally get excited about, we stand up.   Have you ever wondered why?   I have.    I found an answer in Mere Christianity that is now beginning to make perfect sense.  The greater catastrophe was God becoming Man.   It was a fortunate catastrophe for us but by far the most demeaning thing that could have ever been done or happened to God the Son.   It's even worse than being convicted on false charges and sentenced to death on the Cross. 

I'm having one of those weekends where I'm starting to understand why that is.    When I heard about the Trayvon Martin case, I wondered why it hadn't been sent to trial.  I didn't understand.   I was upset and I didn't understand why Florida didn't think a grown man (sort of, he seems to have some moral development issues) chasing and then shooting an unarmed teenager was wrong.   It got worse and worse as the thing went on and then came the verdict.   The stupid stupid verdict.   The what the hell were these women thinking verdict.   How can this irresponsible prick not be guilty?   Even if he isn't guilty under the law, the FLORIDA JUSTICE SYSTEM IS.
I went to church this morning and there it is.   The scriptures all line up.  The parable of the good Samaritan, the Psalm was particularly appropriate:

Psalm 82
1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
   in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 ‘How long will you judge unjustly
   and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
   maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
   deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
   they walk around in darkness;
   all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I can't help but think that by the time he was murdered in an unjust trial with false accusations himself, Jesus may have had a moment similar to this:

Who would??   Who would.  In a world where we put a murder victim on trial for their own death.   Where in the same world, in the same state, another woman fires warning shots at her abusive husband, who she has a protective order against, and gets 20 years for attempted murder.   Somehow, I think, given the situation, she should have shot him.  Then, maybe she would be walking around free.   Oh wait.... she's brown.
So I will continue to bow at the mention of the catastrophe that was the Incarnation.   The indignity of being born in this world that was suffered by our God.  It turns out, there are worse things than death, even death on a cross. 
We're better than this, or we should be.  We know better.  We all know better.  Or maybe we don't.  I have a challenge for those of you who think you want to live in a Christian nation.   Read the words in red in the gospels.  Actually read them.  I'll tell you a secret, they will mess up your life.   You wouldn't be the first person to find out your religion isn't what you thought it was.  The people who read the gospels for the first time after it was translated into English said that this was not the gospel or they are not Christians.  They were right.   That love your neighbor thing?  We're lousy at it some times.  Especially when our neighbor doesn't look like us or share our faith or if we think they're doing something wrong.
It doesn't make us judge, jury and executioner.    Fifteen years ago, provided he was brown at the time, which he was not, my younger brother could have been Trayvon Martin.   He went through a rough patch, got in a little trouble and he wore his pants hanging off his ass.  The last part bothered me the most.  I know, I'm profiling again.  He did not deserve to be shot for walking home in the wrong neighborhood.  He didn't deserve to be stalked by a vigilante.  He didn't deserve to have that jerk walk free.   He's a good man now, which is something that Trayvon Martin will never have a chance to be.   George Zimmerman, having escaped justice, is currently tasting the sweet bite of karma's boot on his ass. 
So if you find yourself uncomfortable reading this, take my advice and read the Gospels.  The whole thing.  In context.  Then decide if you're really into this Christianity thing or you're just going with the flow.  Take a look at yourself.   Do you really thing you want to try this loving your neighbor thing?
Cause it kind of means you can't murder teenagers for walking through your neighborhood in a hoodie.
 I'll leave you guys with this thought from Harper Lee.




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