Monday, March 17, 2008

The Uncomfortable Chaos of the Cross

I’m no theologian; let me make that brief disclaimer.

During Sunday morning worship, something simple touched me very deeply.

What is normally a very reverent service was that and so much more. With all due respect, church services can sometimes be almost predictable. And I like that. It’s okay. Still, every single Sunday, even with the expected delivered, something always surprises me.

Today as the pastor read from the book of Matthew – the story of the events that lead to the crucifixion of the Lord – the sound of his voice alone was interrupted by a chorus of voices in concert with his.

When the first sounds were heard coming from the choir, you could feel the rustle in the crowd – “Uh, well, that’s different.” And even a few giggles. Then -

He told of the interchange between Pilate and the crowd of witnesses. When Pilate asked whom they wanted him to release, you know their response. The choir, speaking all together responded, “Give us Barabus”. This was, of course, a rehearsed moment in the service, but the beauty of it for me was, even though they were responding on cue, they responded like a mob – some speaking slower than others, some louder and some not speaking at all. It was anything but perfect sounding and that was what was so perfect about it. That was what was so moving. It was uncomfortably chaotic in an environment that is usually quiet and still.

The dialogue continued with the pastor speaking his part from the pulpit and the choir and other individuals taking on the vocal roles (none of the principals were visible to the audience) and spoke their lines in turn.

The whole place went still when Pilate said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” and the crowd responded, “Let His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

A quiet, uncomfortable silence.

It seemed like everyone was holding their breath.

“Truly, this is the Son of God” said the Roman soldier – and all of us.


I’ve seen dozens of pageants, dramas, musicals – heard as many Easter sermons as years I’ve lived but rarely have I felt His presence like I did today. I was afraid to move.

I’ve lead and participated in performances that were technically as close to perfect as we could do. I was pleased when we didn’t have a major meltdown or a serious malfunction. At best thankful and at worst, inappropriately proud.

I never apologize for giving every effort my very best. I believe offerings to God, whether a song or a word, should be the best we can give. But, I’m ashamed to say that, many times, I’ve missed the awe and the glory of it all while stressed out in my pursuit of perfection.

The pageantry of the Easter season might not rightfully communicate the chaos of that day. I’m not sure the literal telling of the story would have them beating down the doors for a seat. When you reduce a moment in history like the crucifixion to a play or something that looks more like a children’s story, though less real, it’s easier to digest.

Reality makes me very uncomfortable.

On the hill that day, were the disciples quietly watching everything unfold? Were they keeping their wits about them or were they about to lose it as they thought, “What is going on?! Is this really happening?” “Is this how this whole thing ends?” “Somebody do something!”

Was the family of the Crucified One properly placed in position at the foot of the cross or were they stricken with grief, with loss – panic evolving into madness?

And the brutality of it all. Many of us saw “The Passion of the Christ” a few years ago and while it was horrible in its depiction of the abuses Jesus endured, most would probably agree that the real thing was still much worse than a film could ever show. It’s impossible to dress that up.

It was horrible.

When the chaos ended and the Prince of Peace came out of the grave, time and eternity never looked the same again.

And I for one am thankful to be entering this Holy Week with the fresh impact of the sacrifice made for me. When I am quiet long enough and allow the truth to settle on my heart, it chills me.

I’m afraid and assured at the same time.

“Lord have mercy.”

He did, He does and He will.



Amylisa said...

The way you closed your post expresses exactly how I feel too....

I’m afraid and assured at the same time.

“Lord have mercy.”

He did, He does and He will.

Thank God yes He does!

I thought of your song this past Sunday, "The Hunger." The words of the crowd that day, calling for Him to be crucified....
and I had to hope that I would not have been among them. I pray I wouldn't have been looking for an earthly King.

Instead Lord, with our hearts let us sing of our Redeemer,

"Let the blood-Let the blood of the man
Be on our hands and on our children
We, the receivers of grace
Here we stand
Let the blood-Let the blood of the man
the fruit of His life
Ever blessed and holy
Spotless-here we stand."

Thank you for sharing your writing here. God bless you always!

Anonymous said...

I too wss remembering your song "The Hunger" I know for me it so amazingly stirred emotions not so much of the physical torment, although, as you said...I don't know that anyone can truely reproduce that, but what what came out to me is those words amylisa type

"Let the blood of this man be on us and on our children"

That is sooo amazing. What was done out of such evil and selfish hearts and spirits...that request was granted by God.

His blood is on us and our children, and every day I look at my children and watch them to about their innocent little lives, i thank my savior that His blood, His Grace, is on all the lives of those who ask it and believe it.

Thanks, Wayne. It's a message from God, but thanks for passing it on.