Today is Good Friday – the culmination of the Lenten contemplation of our personal and communal brokenness and our need for the Resurrection that comes on Easter Sunday.
I am feeling, pretty desperately, the need for that resurrection hope after the past few months. Ever since returning to the States in January from our European sojourn I’ve felt compelled to re-engage in a way I had been resisting while I had the excuse of a separating ocean. Specifically, I’ve been re-engaging with the American Church. In a blessed and wonderful that has meant re-engaging with the congregation that sent us out three years ago, and what a homecoming that has been. I have never in my life felt so grateful for a church family.
More broadly, however, this has meant re-engaging with the Christian Culture Wars that are rending the American Church into mutually despising pieces. I have a side in these wars, and I can’t pretend they are over petty things that we should just agree to stop fighting about. Scriptural Authority and the Love of Neighbor are really major issues that go to the core of people’s beliefs – I get that. There is no easy solution.
And yet, my heart has been breaking, each time I read a new Kissing Fish article, or blog post about the World Vision policy switch, or personal story of a former student at my Alma Mater, that all reveal just how broken, and sometimes hateful, my larger church body has become. This Lenten season for me has involved a lot of grieving, and crying out to God for answers – for hope that this supposed “body of Christ “can be saved.
Those are hard prayers to pray, hard questions to ask. But, I’m glad to have gone through this Lenten season, because I have heard an answer. The great thing about Lent is that is ends. And it ends with resurrection. And that is a powerful answer to questions about brokenness and death.
Broken Body, Resurrection Hope
Forty day journey nears its end,
time for reflection and remorse,
a time our hearts are meant to lend
attention to a change of course.
And yet… these weeks have witnessed pain
not of repentance, but of pride
that marks white robes, already stained
by ripping wounds caused from inside.
This Church, this body, meant to be
united by one Spirit’s breath,
appears, to tear-soaked eyes, to me,
to be a witness more to death.
Death of love, and death of grace,
unable to extend a hand
when its own member’s wounded face
asks faithfulness to understand.
“I can still love the God you serve
but disagree with you about
five scriptures that expose a nerve,
about the sanctity of doubt.”
But wounded hands pull back in fists,
defensive, curled around the pain,
with closed-off ears, both sides insist
“I am the right, you are to blame.”
Self-righteousness that tears and rends
a body meant to live as one.
Contracted muscles can’t extend
to open arms as did the Son.
For soon we’ll see another form
broken, hanging on a tree
Good Friday calls us near to mourn
the sacrifice on Calvary.
Oh, may that memory impart
return to humble brokenness,
give healing balm to bleeding heart,
heal lips that struggle to confess.
We all are broken, every one,
and all imperfect in our faith.
By the one Truth we’re all undone.
There is no credit we can take.
And brokenness like this is blessed
if it can cause us to return
to love, where arguments aren’t stressed
for we all know grace is unearned.
And, despite the bloody trail
the evidence of Church undone,
we can still rise in joy to hail
the Whole and Resurrected One.
He is our hope, alive and true
that broken body can still mend.
A dying Church can still renew
leave fear behind and rise again.