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This week's authors are Anne and Tim Hughes, co-Directors of Silver Lake Conference Center for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, King of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Jesus was bullied. In preparation for crucifixion, Jesus was stripped, and humiliated, and mocked with a scarlet robe and forced to wear a crown of thorns.
Jesus was taunted first. He was ridiculed with mock worship, with name-calling, and he was spat on. Some translations read, "when they had finished making fun of him, they took the robe off... And put his own clothes back on him... then they led him out to crucify him."
He wasn't only subjected to capital punishment, in the name of Rome: he was ridiculed, taunted, physically and verbally harassed, stripped, assaulted, and bullied first. What was the purpose of this humiliation ritual, in justifying or preparing for the killing? Did the public group humiliation make it palatable for the crowd to distance themselves from the violence about to be done to an innocent man?
Considering the epidemic of bullying and harassment facing our youth today, as shown in the documentary film "Bully" released last week (there is a link to the trailer below), I am struck by considering this human, all-too prevalent aspect of the Passion.
The guards could have kidnapped Jesus in the Garden, and led him to a secret prison to kill him. Why the public taunting first? Does it mean that we are prone, by nature, to humiliate our victims in public, to expose and to render them 'other' to the crowd, so we may absolve our by-stander consciences?
I am more haunted by our cultural knack for cultivating by-standers than I am by the bullies who torment their peers. We only breed public violence because there is an audience demand for it. These guards provoked their display in a context of fear, because there was an acquiescing public audience of complicity. Where are we now, in the Passion drama of our schools, on the digital and radio airwaves, in the courtrooms and on our streets? We are everywhere, watching the ridicule, quietly listening to the surround sound of mob mentality that is bred of fear.
This Holy Week, let us recognize the purpose of the public. We are always in the public audience, always watching what happens right in front of us.
Dear God, your Son Jesus, was taunted. Your Child was bullied. Thank you for gracing us with so many chances, again and again, to step out from the crowd. Give us the courage we so desperately need, that we may hand you back your dignity, your clothes, your name, your humanity, wherever we see ridicule, taunting, harassment. Give us the courage to say "Enough. Stop. Let Him Be. Let us be." Amen.
the followers of Christ around the world as they pray and reflect this Holy Week;
the friends and family of the Rev. Dr. Gabe Campbell, who served UCC churches in Greenwich and Stamford, who died on February 1;
those grieving, and those struggling to recover from their injuries from the airplane crash in Siberia today; and
the people of Myanmar, that they may realize the hope of a new voice in their government.
those who grieve due to violence; may they have comfort and justice;
the friends and family of the Rev. John G. Manter, who served the UCC churches of Windham for over fifteen years, who died on March 10;
the friends and family of those who died in shootings at the Jewish School in Toulouse, France, on March 19, as well as for the injured and traumatized;
Coptic Christians who grieve the death of their spiritual leader, Pope Shenouda III;
the people of Syria amidst increasing violence and international paralysis;
the Rev. Dr. Barry Cass, the staff, members, and friends of the Somers Congregational United Church of Christ, which lost its 170-year-old meetinghouse to a devastating fire the night of January 1-2;
the lay leadership, staff, members, friends, and community of the Saugatuck Congregational Church UCC, which suffered severe damage from a substantial fire on the night of November 20;
Gail Joslin, former staff member of the Connecticut Conference, being treated for advanced liver cancer;
US Army Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Carroll, son of the Rev. Carla Dietz Carroll, associate pastor at the United Church of Rowayton, UCC, and her husband John Carroll, who is stationed in Afghanistan; Sgt. Carroll and his wife have a young son Charlie;
the Conference's partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery and their communities on the Korean peninsula;
the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
the people of Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Djibouti, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Territories: may they have justice and peace;
the people of Haiti and the people who seek to aid them;
the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, confronting the loss of a job, or working to find just resolutions to the crisis; and
those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck, particularly in Afghanistan, India, Georgia, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Colombia.
To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Rev. Eric Anderson at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Cong'l Ch of Stratford
P The Rev. Edward P. Rawls
Lordship Community Ch., Inc.
P The Rev. Mary S. Willis
First Ch of Christ, Cong'l
P The Rev. Bridget Fidler
CE Ms. Christina S. Davies
Y Ms. Christina S. Davies
Taftville Cong'l Church
P The Rev. Jack M. Shackles Jr.
Talcottville Cong'l Church
IN The Rev. Wayne Hansen
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The Spirit Calendar: April 02, 2012 by Anne Hughes, Co-Director of Silver Lake Conference Center