"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday and the Life of a Prophet

"After experiencing the horrors of the Vietnam War, certain American veterans proclaimed they couldn't believe in God any more, as if it had been the will of God that they should have been over there in the first place. It is not the will of God that any human being die in a war, on a battlefield, and it is no exaggeration to picture Christ between the opposing lines, every bullet and missle passing through his body.

Why does God let these things happen? Because God can't prevent them, love being self-restricting when it comes to power. If these human disasters grieve us, we can imagine how they break God's heart. But human disasters are the responsibility of human beings, no God. We can blame God only for giving us the freedom that, misused, makes these disasters inevitable. Often, I confess, I do blame God. I rail at God, saying, 'Look, God, if you give an expensive watch to a small child and the child smashes it, who's at fault?' But I have to recognize that if love is the name of the game, freedom is the absolute precondition. God's love is self-restricting when it comes to power. The Christmas story, more than any other in the Bible, shows us that we are going to be helped by God's powerlessness - or God's love - not by God's power. The Christas story shows us that God had to come to earth as the child of Joseph and Mary because freedom for the beloved demands equality with the beloved."
- William Sloan Coffin.

The bullets that pass through the body of Jesus are not passing through some mystical substance, but through flesh that tears. God came to bring a different kind of power to this earth. Not the power that perpetuates the crimes upon which this world is based - exchanging one set of criminals for another keeps the system of slavery thriving. But love restricts itself and renounces the power that does not rise from its substance. We discover this power when we renounce the violence that powers us. We believe in the power that comes from a death on the cross, which is not a magical power, but a power that lives in our hearts and is stronger than death. We experience this power most deeply when we have lost and become lost. Have no fear of the megachurch religion - to the extent it is based on "prosperity thinking" and national idols, it will fade into the paganism which is its true worship. We give our hearts to another, as did Bill Coffin. And we place all our hope in God's powerlessness, which is greater than the strength of men and nations.

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