Today I’m angry with Jesus.
Not because of anything he did or didn’t do.
Not because of some disappointment or unanswered prayer.
Not because something bad happened to me or someone I love.
Though something terrible did happen in Charlottesville.
No, I’m angry with Jesus because he wants me to love people. People I can’t find lovable. People who use his name to justify their bigotry. People who hate – or, maybe worse, people who cynically brew a toxic mixture of fear and faith to to poison our hearts against each other.
My sincerely held belief that Christ’s table is open to all is at odds with my limited ability to love.
Being angry with Jesus sounds like a terrible thing for a Christian to admit, but maybe that’s where it needs to be directed. It’s easy to nod on Sunday morning when a minister says each of us helped drive those nails through Christ’s hands … easy to be part of a metaphor that says we all sin. It usually seems abstract. Yet today my knuckles are white from gripping the hammer so tightly.
I am not a fan of atonement theology, yet somehow I still believe in the redemptive power of the cross. I’ve often wondered how that can be. And today I think I get my first real inkling.
This anger isn’t going to simply disappear, yet Christ asks me to forgive and love and do good to those who would persecute me and those I love. So for now, for right or wrong, Christ has to absorb that anger so my mind and heart can be focused on figuring out how to love white supremacists enough to accept them – but never their hate! – should they show up to Christ’s table. I’m too human to not resent being asked to do that. My resentment is a cold, hard spike and it needs to be buried somewhere before I can move toward love.
And that, my friends, is exactly where I pierce the flesh of Christ.
That is where I finally understand how all that nodding on Sunday mornings has been so much lip service. How the cross is redemptive in a very concrete way.
This morning, my invitation to Christ’s table comes from an especially humble place. Who am I, bearing these nails and resenting my savior, to invite anyone? Yet I do, because I believe more than ever Christ’s table is the only place where all the pieces of this story make sense.
The invitation is not actually mine to offer. Christ has already done that. Perhaps the only way we can truly accept it is to pass that offer along when we least want to. For what but love will change us for the better?
All are welcome. All are welcome. God help us, all are welcome.
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.