By Timothy Nixon
As mentioned in “The Need for Marginalized Voices,” many of the GoTHs have read The Cross and the Lynching Tree from our participation in the Marginalized Voices book club. The connections and observations on race and theology – both historically and in our present society – are profound. As Celal mentioned, James Cone argues for an interpretation of Jesus’ crucifixion as a lynching and the American lynchings as crucifixions. This understanding carries with it many implications for how we should seek justice and wrestle with the real tenets of our faith. Among the commentary on social justice, white supremacy, the horrors of black lynching, and continued oppression – all of which need and deserve to be discussed – there lies a theological reflection on the passion of Christ that continues to impact my experience of Holy Week. Cone observes that the crucifixion was incredibly painful and devastating – likened to the pain and public torment of black lynchings – but that pain is glossed over and superseded by the joy in resurrection that is celebrated during Holy Week.
Now that it has been pointed out, I have observed this myself. In the services at St. Andrews, even as the clothes, liturgy, and surroundings together create a somber mood, the sermons tend to refocus our thoughts on the love of Christ and the hope inherent in the resurrection. At a Tenebrae service I attended on Tuesday – a service designed to position the congregants in the mindset of a Christ sentenced to die in a most horrible way – the closing remarks of the service were ones solely of hope and salvation. While this love and hope are true and present in the Christ event, they hide the power inherent in the passion of Christ. God being powerful is not a new thing and God doing the impossible is just God being God. God as sacrifice is powerful, but, God in pain is revolutionary. As painful as it is for us, I believe it important for us to take the time to rest in the discomfort of remembering the real pain of Christ’s death. If we can do this with Christ, perhaps we can find it in ourselves to rest in the discomfort of recalling the pain of our fellow humans.