Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Meaning of the Cross

One of my convictions about Jesus and what it means to be a follower of Jesus - the incarnational aspect of Christ giving up a life of privilege to come and be with us, suffer and die for us in the end so we can be reconciled and enjoy that life of privilege in eternity with him - is beautifully expressed in this short poem by Dorothy Sayers:

Hard it is, very hard
To travel up the slow and stony road
To Calvary, to redeem mankind, far better
To make but one resplendent miracle,
Lean through the cloud, lift the right hand of power
And with a sudden lightning smited the world perfect.
Yet this was not God's way, Who had the power,
But set it by choosing the Cross, the thorn,
The sorrowful wounds, Something there is, perhaps
That power destroys in passing, something supreme,
To whose great value in the eyes of God
That Cross, that thorn, and those five wounds bear witness.

Sayer's poem along with my own reading of the Bible affirms that the cross for followers of Jesus is to try, no matter what their calling, to live like Jesus - simply, relationally, sacrificially - and love our neighbors like he did. This means trying to live a life of spirituality - discerning and doing God's will. studying his Word, tithing to the church, caring for the poor and needy, near and far - rather than accumulating material wealth or giving the building of our own financial stability the highest priority in our lives. I've never been 100% successful in doing this but I try and often feel so very frustrated because few in my faith community are in sync with me. I'm picky about how much I'll eat and when and where and so, I have almost no friends who invite me anywhere, anymore. I don't like shopping and I question where it all comes from, anyway, to buy frivolously; I'm no fun. My family and I live in a house that hasn't been remodeled since it was built 40 years ago and we don't take vacations; few want to stay with us and we visit almost no one who can't be reached by auto/train easily. In an affluent society where remodeling is the name of the game in almost every household, sightseeing, adventure trips, cruises and vacations galore are common, it can be hard but I've learned to bear it *almost* silently. Imagine my surprise then, when the pastor at my church read aloud a poem titled My Cross by David Siaki. Wow, there are others who share my values and are in fact living what I've only hankered after for most of my life? Right here, n the OC? I've not always had a simple life in Christ; I've not always been a follower of Jesus, and I'm a long way from having God's purity of heart and love. But David's poem encourages me to keep trying. The track I'm on, finally, is right. I might be living on the edge, but I have exciting fellow travelers and I'm on an exhilarating journey. I don't carry my cross alone. I am yoked to King Jesus.


My Cross
By David Siaki

Parking lots with no empty spaces
Lines in grocery stores
Flight delays

This is my Cross
And I take it up
Daily

A suffering servant
Shouldering the hardships of
Traffic
Argumentative colleagues
Uninspiring worship leadership
Inconvenient weather
Junk mail

I lay it all at the feet of the Master

Salt
And Light
On the Narrow Way

A patient smile
At their second-language inadequacy
Evidence
Of my love
For the Stranger

And somewhere
There is delighted laughter
Somewhere
In the darkness
Applauding
The revolution that I have watered down
Domesticated
A housepet
Safe
Clean
Inoffensive

And I have comfortable company
In my comfortable discipleship
A throng of distracted
Onlookers
Behind Stained Glass Windows
Bystanders
Cocooned
In well fed warmth
And fellowship
Safe
And clean
Practical
And undemanding

But
He
He was a fantast
with intent
An explosion
Incompatible with the ethic of empire
Detained
Tortured
Executed
Because
He
He could not be accounted for
Or appeased
He could not be negotiated with
Or compromised
He would not listen
To reason
He was
Offensive
Inconvenient
Urgent
And we
We are looking back
With our hands on the plow
We are burying our fathers
Unworthy
We
Sigh
Relieved
That the rich young ruler
Loved money
And we do not
We
We watch baseball
And Idol
We know who should win
Dancing With the Stars
But
We
We don’t know
Where our shirt was made
And by whom
Where our chocolate comes from
Or the names
Of the slaves
Who harvested the beans
And gave us their childhoods
We
Don’t know
Anything
That matters
We
Quote Gandhi
And Dr. King
Arundhati Roy
And the prophet Amos
Over appetizers
At dinner parties
We
Update our landscaping
Spend more
Eat more
Take more
Use more
Discard more
Allow more
Ignore more
Than revolutionaries would
Because we are not
Revolutionaries
Anymore
We are not
The Uprising
Anymore
We are not
The Remnant
We are not
Fighting
The empire
The darkness
The oppressors
We are not
Fighting for
The voiceless
The powerless
The oppressed
Anymore
We
Rendered unto Caesar
More than what was Caesar’s
We
Close our eyes
In the midst of the pain
And the brokenness
We
Gain Weight
While the world starves
We
Spend Billions
On new churches
And Christmas sweaters
We
Argue about
Infant Baptism
And
Imputed Righteousness
Sipping
Four Dollar Lattes
With our mouths full
Of Cake
We
Thank God for his blessings
Tithe two and a half percent
And wonder at the state of the world

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