Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hate Violence Is Incompatible with a Christian Lifestyle

I continue to be surprised, and embarrassed, at how many self-declared Christians are opposing the Matthew Shepard Act.

Here is a Good Friday meditation, on the "First Word" of the sayings that are said to be the "seven last words" of Jesus before his death. Liturgically, it's out of season, but I think the sentiment is right on time.


We Didn’t Know What We Were Doing

A meditation delivered at First Baptist Church, Medford, MA, Good Friday, 2004

The Rev. Dr. Joan M. Saniuk

Text: Luke 23:34

Hurting other people does not come naturally to us.

We don’t normally enjoy

nailing wrists and feet to a wooden scaffold

pointing a loaded gun at another person, pulling the trigger

dropping a bomb onto someone else’s city

turning away a person in need

And so we convince ourselves that it’s ok,

that it isn’t really us whom we are hurting,

that is isn’t really Christ whom we are killing.

We learn to name the other as not-human. We learn to use other names:

criminal. enemy. hooligan. foreigner.

abomination. derelict. illegal. gang-banger.

evil-doer, terrorist.


Perhaps that what the Roman soldiers called Jesus

as they led him with two other men

to be crucified.

Holy and Eternal One.

This day we bring you our grief at the evil we have done to others: evil that we did not know we were doing; evil that we felt powerless to avoid; evil that we did not want to do.

We forgot that when we speak in anger, we hurt each other. That’s not who we wont to be; forgive us. We didn’t know what we were doing.

We forgot that when we disrespect our neighbors, we disrespect your beloved children. That’s not who you’ve called us to be; forgive us. we didn’t know what we were doing.

We forgot that when we lash out for revenge, we strike you. That’s not who we are. Really, it’s not.

Forgive us. We didn’t know what we were doing.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


(c) 2009 by Joan M. Saniuk, Ph.D. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-used or re-posted without the express written consent of the author.

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