Lately, I have had a lot of time to think about borders and boundaries. I am a doctoral student at Brite Divinity School and I was sitting in class last spring…and in this class on immigration we began to talk about the end game. What is the end goal? I raised my hand and said, “Can we imagine a world where there are no nationalities…where there are no borders…where there is simply us?” From their response, you would have thought that I was talking about Mars.
This morning I think it is important that we realize that the borders and boundaries we create in our lives cause violence…they separate…they divide…they keep us from being in relationship with each other. As we stand next to the Federal Building…so often when we think about what it means to be here in the United States…we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the 70,000 people who have been murdered in the drug war in Northern Mexico. Less than a couple hours drive from where we stand right now. That is because we have erected borders and boundaries in our lives that allow us to other people.
Just this past week, I was in Huntsville, Texas. I told people this week that, ‘Here in Texas, the way of the cross ends in Huntsville.’ We live in a state that is executing more people than most nations on earth…and somehow we seem to be able to pass concern by saying that those people are monsters. Those people are something less than human. We look outside of our national boundaries and we are often able to not care because somehow those people are different…somehow those people are other.
It is Good Friday and there is Good News.
If we want to talk about gun violence, gun control…ending the need for all of these things….then we need to talk about the borders and boundaries that we put between each other. That lead us to protect things. What would be the big deal if the border between the United States and Mexico was taken down this afternoon? …and people came and got all your stuff…and we were pushed in a direction where stuff don’t matter…a direction of Jesus. Where we share. Where we learn to love each other.You see I don’t believe that Jesus died to save us from our sins. I believe that Jesus died to show us the way. And the question is… ‘Are we willing to go the way of the cross?’ Are we willing to put down our power…our violence…our hate…and learn to love our neighbors as our selves?
As we were walking over here, this guy said something to me that made me so angry. I wanted to turn around and punch that guy in the face. He said, “I wish I could protest with y’all but I’m working.” I wanted to get right up in his face and I told myself, “Jeff you are about to talk to people about loving their neighbor as their self and it might not look nice to get in a tussle with this guy on the sidewalk before you get there.” But I think…names like Adam Lanza, Fred Phelps, Corporate Executives…all of these people that we have othered. Now wait a second…you didn’t expect me to say those names. You see in our activism…what will be the measure of whether we follow the way of Jesus will be how much love we show to those that we have othered. It is not just the people on death row. We exist in a time of increasing polarities…increasing division…and I want to know something…do we as Christians have the courage to get up on that cross and say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”…? and when we travel to that space…that is the space where we can say that we are following the way of Jesus. When we go to that space that is not just about justice but it is about reconciliation. That is when we can talk about following the way of Jesus.
Will we push toward the cross today? It means loving our neighbors as our self even if they are killing us. Today, whether we are American or Mexican, black or white, gay or straight…whatever dichotomy, boundary, border or identity that we can come up with…Jesus is calling us to a cross where such things die and we are asked to love our neighbor as our self no matter what.
Will we put down our guns…whether they be our mouths or physical guns…and begin to love our neighbors as our selves?
This is the hour of the crucifixion. This is the time of forgiveness. This is the place where reconciliation happens.
So I invite you all to climb up on that cross and hang there for a little while until love is all that is left.