Good FridayApril 2, 2021
by Martha Bourlakas
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? —Psalm 22:1
Today is a horrifying day. It is impossible and un-Christian and inhu-man to move past it without acknowledging and understanding what happened. Today, we are eye-witnesses to the murder of Jesus Christ, and we are complicit because we are the descendants of this human family. In Psalm 22, we hear a cry, a scream: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? Hearing someone else’s screams, pleading in agony, is painful, and causes us to turn our heads, cover our ears. We say, I wasn’t there! I never would have been part of the mob! I never would have watched while Jesus died on the cross! Can’t we just focus on the resurrection? The glorious resurrection will come, but we are not there yet. Today, we are at the scene of violence, despair, and death, and we must attend.
Lynching—mob murder used to terrorize an entire race of people—occurred throughout the South and Midwest in the years of Recon-struction, following the Civil War. The Equal Justice Initiative, www.eji.org, has to date completed the most extensive research on lynching in America. EJI Director, author, and attorney Bryan Stevenson wrote, “We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terror-ism until we tell the truth about it.” When we read about lynchings or see pictures, we turn our heads, avert our eyes. We say, I wasn’t there! I never would have been part of the mob! I never would have watched while a human being was lynched! But we did watch. From the Lynching in America report: “At these often-festive community gatherings, large crowds of whites watched and participated in the Black victims’ prolonged torture, mutilation, dismemberment, and burning at the stake.”
I pray my white, Southern ancestors were not eye-witnesses to murder. I pray their strong faith led them to speak out against such atrocities. But I don’t know. I pray we are evolving as humans, that our faith is helping us strive for justice and to respect the dignity of all human beings. But I witness our ongoing, entrenched racism. I know I have benefitted from that racism. I know my silence and passivity are part of my complicity. I looked away from the video of the murder of George Floyd. I averted my eyes, covered my ears.
Thanks be to God, the mutilated body of Jesus Christ does not remain on the cross. We live and move toward justice through the Resurrec-tion. Today, though, we must listen to the cries of Jesus, look straight into the eyes of evil and hatred, acknowledge our complicity, ask for forgiveness, and become better, Easter people. Let us pray we remember we are beloved descendants of one family of God, ancestors of all who will follow.