The story of Jesus' arrest, trial, and journey to the cross becomes our focus as we enter Passiontide. These powerful narratives are at the core of our Christian story. In them, we hear of the gift of God's selfless love, the challenge to serve one another, Jesus giving his life so that we all might be reconciled to God. It is a story of God's embrace of all humanity, calling us back from separation, and sin to unity and peace.
The irony is that this very story has been used as a means of tribalism and hatred. Throughout Christian history, these stories have wrongfully been used as the basis of antisemitism and violence against the Jewish people. Words matter and the misuse of the words about "the Jews" in gospel accounts have fueled hatred.
Words matter as they have in recent months when insults hurled at our Asian siblings have fueled hatred -- words like 'Kung flu," and "China virus," have been the basis of pitting "us against them" yet again.
These acts of violence, fear, and demonizing of the other lie at the heart of the darkness Jesus came to destroy. The biblical story tells us that all the peoples of the earth are created as one blood, and Jesus came to redeem all of us and to bring us all under the most gracious rule of his dominion so that it might be on earth as it is in heaven.
As followers of Jesus crucified and risen, we have the mandate to speak against all forms of hate speech or actions targeting any person or group. So now it is imperative for all of us to stand in solidarity with one another. If you hear someone engaging in toxic rhetoric say something -- not escalating an argument, but defusing it with love and grace.
As we enter this Passiontide, we know that the darkness of human hearts still needs the power of Christ's redeeming love and transformation. In recent times we have seen this darkness rise up in attacks on African Americans, through systemic racism, in anti-immigrant attacks, and now in the rise of anti-Asian attacks. Let us once more pray from the wisdom of the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen (BCP p.815)