Thursday, May 14, 2015

Is it Finished?

Below is the text from Good Friday 2015 in which I participated in the Seven Last Words Sermon at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, Georgia.

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

It is finished.

What did these words mean to the friends and family of Jesus who were standing at the foot of his cross, witnessing his execution? Were the words comforting? Or were they confusing?
These were the last words of the man who said that he came to bring them life, yet he was dying.

It is finished.

All these many years later, these words of Jesus have become overly familiar to us.
We hear them every year as we walk through Holy Week. On Good Friday we remember an equivocal act of love, but on this day that we call good, there is also a tension with which we are called to wrestle or at the very least recognize:
I have been reading and re-reading these words .

It is finished.
It is finished.

But over these past few weeks, when I hear these words, I don’t hear them as a declaration, or a statement of affirmation.
I hear a question.
Is it finished?
Is it finished?

When we stigmatize mental health issues making people who live with mental illness and disabilities invisible, is it finished?

When the planet that humanity was given by the Creator to care for is in rapid degradation because our roles as caregivers are secondary to our roles as consumers, is it finished?

When children of God, freeze to death sleeping on the steps outside of a church because they weren't permitted inside, is it finished?

When violence is glorified in the name of rights, is it finished?

When we refer to people of other cultures, colors, religions, creeds, political persuasion, and sexual identities as those people, is it finished?

When Children of God fleeing war torn countries, or abject poverty, are labeled as illegal because they have the audacity to cross our borders and want what we all want for those that we love, is it finished?

When a nation whose people and leaders claim to worship the Prince of Peace wage war in the name of an Empire, is it finished?

When citizenship in an Empire is valued over citizenship in the Kingdom of God, is it finished?

When we justify our mistreatment and neglect of our neighbors by cherry picking scripture or by turning on the “news channel” of our choice thus allowing vitriol to sooth our collective consciousness, is it finished?

When young black men and women die at the hands of those meant to protect and serve, and those who protect and serve are demonized because they are all victims of a System that functions as if some human lives are more valuable than others, is it finished?

When slavery is as prevalent as it ever was... not only are children of god trafficked in the sex trade, but in this country there is a for profit prison industry that currently has 2 million individuals, mostly men of color, living behind bars, is it finished?

When lawmakers would make laws that allow for discrimination for and the legalization hate in the name of religious freedom and restoration? Is it finished?

When we make politics prophetic and ignore the words of  the prophets?
Word like those from the prophet Ezekiel:
This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Or the words of Jesus from the book of Matthew:
'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Or the words of Martin Luther from the Small Catechism as he explained the 5th commandment: Thou shalt not kill:
We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body].

Is it finished?

We have come together to remember a man who was executed by the state. Yet, today, men and women are still executed by the state.  Their bodies are strapped to a table so the poison can be  pumped through their bodies until they are dead in the name of justice. I ask you...
Is it finished?

No comments:

Post a Comment