Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday - When Jesus Came to Birmingham

Good Friday. It is a day that lives in our hearts and minds. In light of racially hate resulting in the tragic shootings at the Kansas Jewish Community Center, there is a question from which we cannot escape: Did we learn anything from the day called Good Friday? Do we still crucify Jesus on the Cross-of sin and shame? Years ago, after the racial unrest in the south and particularly in Birmingham, G.A. Studdert-Kennedy wrote this powerful poem.

When Jesus Came to Birmingham

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree, 

They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep, 

For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap. 

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by. 

They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die; 

For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain. 

Still Jesus cried, 'Forgive them, for they know not what they do,' 

And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through; 

The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see, 

And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary. 

Some questions to ponder this Good Friday are: How do we, individually and collectively, continue to crucify Jesus today in the 21st Century? How do we drive “great nails through hands and feet”? Have we really grown “more tender”? And, what are we doing to make Calvary a life changing reality for everyone?

As long as there is just one racially motivated hate crime committed, as long as mass shootings take place anywhere in society, as long as little children are abused and teenagers taken advantage of, as long as there is one case of domestic abuse, as long as war is still waged, as long as people go to bed hungry, as long as there is homelessness, as long as there is human trafficking, as long as one women is under paid because of her gender, as long as people cannot access good and affordable health care, as long as there is a financial divide that continues to widen … Good Friday hasn’t become good for everyone and nails are still driven through hands and feet and the crucifixion still takes place even in our more “tender” society.

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