Read Acts 5:17-42
I was struck by a phrase used in this passage. “The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, who you had killed by hanging him on a tree.” Through reading Acts, I know Peter was quite blunt in pointing out all those who killed Jesus, but that phrase… “hanging him on a tree” it put me at a level of unease.
Perhaps it’s what’s going on in the country right now. The hate and violence that’s erupting all around us. Perhaps it’s because I live in a part of the country where racism is an every day norm, and as much as I hate it, I can’t escape it. “Hanging him on a tree.”
How often do we do this? How often to we hanging Jesus out on the tree and put our personal beliefs above our belief in him? What is wrong with us? I’m literally in tears as I write this. The pain I feel every day as I come to work, as I kiss my baby on his head is overwhelming. I want this to be a safe place for him to grow up. I want to know that he will experience good in this world, and I’m so desperately afraid he won’t.
Yes, he is white, and not only white, but blond and blue-eyed. He is the pinnacle of what it means to be American, and I HATE that. I hate all the advantages he’ll have because of how he was born, the color of his skin, the privileges he’ll have just because of happenstance and circumstance. This is not the world our Creator could have wanted for us.
I wrote my sermon this morning for Feb 19th, and the diversity in the leaders at the church of Antioch is amazing. Black people, foster siblings, Jews and Gentiles, all leading together in one church, in one family. Why can’t we be more like the early church?
How can people in my congregations not understand the hanging tree isn’t gone? Instead of Jesus on it, instead of Jews on it, all we’ve done is trade it out, putting our rainbow family and our Muslim siblings up on those branches, hanging them from the tree just like the people who hung Jesus.
The hanging tree isn’t gone. It’s victims have just changed, and we are as bad as the Sadducees, as the Pharisees, as the Nazis, as the KKK. We haven’t dismantled the tree at all, and its power still has a hold over us.