Where did they find the trillion dollars? For a century we’ve had the communication, distribution, and financial systems to distribute the world’s wealth to the hungry, sick and ignorant of the earth. I once read a United Nations report that said 10 billion a year for seven years would feed, provide health care, and educate the world. But for the last 100 years we couldn’t find the money or the political will to do it. Suddenly, when the global system that makes the rich richer, and keeps the poor waiting – is in trouble – the money gushes forth like water from a rock.
The Jesus people’s hopes for a revolution are cast aside. The crowd calls out – “we have no King but Caesar”.
“And what will I do with this Jesus?”
We all dress in the fashion of The Emperor. How fine the fabric, what good taste he has – no?. To not agree is to risk ridicule. The financial system we all depend on is sustained only by faith. The weavers of this faith spread the rumour that if we only play along, the powerful will sustain us. When was it that the global currency standard changed from gold – something rare and precious – to the American dollar – Monopoly money we’ve agreed to play with - in the banker We Trust. When was it that the basis of the world’s wealth shifted fundamentally away from the trade of commodities and assets to the debt and paper zeroes generated by pure speculative greed? We all play along. Who has the courage to tip the house of cards and risk ridicule, scorn, crucifixtion?
It’s the child who tells the truth with a laugh “The Emperor has no clothes” We are all naked and exposed. Jesus tells us it’s the little child who knows God’s kingdom ways; can only tell the truth - and is okay with being naked.
Jesus is brought naked before the local representative of Emperor Obama. “Are you a King?” he asks.
JOHN 18: 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Jesus won’t play along. To put on the Emperor’s clothes would be to step away from those who need redemption most – everyone. Everyone needs redemption. We look for leaders to inspire us, healers to restore us, teachers to turn us. But where can we find redemption?
The kingdom where Jesus rules we call heaven. Certainly not this place called planet earth. This place where fear and greed prowl in the tall grass like hungry lions and we have such a hard time believing that God could take care of us all. So, we compete – playing Monopoly where there are always winners and losers.
I don’t know about you but I measure my self against others - constantly judging. Right? The forbidden fruit that belonged only to the gods – the taste of judgment – is in us. Eden’s garden where we lived as naked children is lost.
Yet Jesus walks in that garden. He can get us in past the angel with the fiery sword. We only need leave behind our judgment.
MATTHEW 7: 1“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
But isn’t religion all about judgment? Churches advise us to leave judgment to Jesus – but are so sure that HE will get those bad guys for us. They/we put a big stick in Jesus’ hands and try to scare people into church – “you can’t afford not to get in on this deal buddy.”
Cynthia Bourgeault, in “Encountering the Wisdom Jesus”, risks the statement that it is not the Resurrection that makes Jesus uniquely the Christ. It is because he Redeems that he is the ONE. Resurrection is possible for anyone whose illusions are first dissolved by the fires of hell.
As the story goes, between Good Friday and Resurrection day Jesus journeyed into Hell. The place of final judgment. The place beyond hope. The place I keep finding in the mirror. The place where public opinion counts – where unleashed dogs eat dogs and women and children suffer horrors at the hands of warriors with a taste for victory. In the Toronto Stock exchange or the villages of the Congo, mother earth is raped in the name of the game.
And Jesus makes that Hell the seat of his kingdom. Does he battle against the forces? Does he defend and rationalize and make deals? Doesn’t he rule like every King on Judgment’s seat? The Bible says Judgment is his – it’s full of it – literally.
And there is a thread that runs throughout Holy Scripture that if you pull it unravels the fabric of the game of Church and State. Jesus is the Christ – not King - the one who sets aside judgment – won’t throw the dice – instead choosing to simply love.
He loves Judas who made a deal he couldn’t live with.
He loves Peter who first picked up arms, then cowered, confused about how to obey the rules without a game.
He loves Pilate who had to judge the one who wouldn’t judge.
He loves the Pharisees who were sure GOD needed protecting.
He loves the crowd caught up in the blood lust sport.
He loves even me as I stumble through each one those roles with every day’s throw of the dice.
He invites me to come and sit with him in hell. Seeing that love surrounds both the rapist and the victim equally. Feeling how difficult it is to open my heart to that love. Knowing that once it breaks open just a crack that grace will invade it and make it whole and all the ways I’ve judged and divided my life into will be washed away in the blood of Jesus that pumps from the universal heart of a Maker beyond good and evil; beyond games of hunger and hoarding, beyond and beneath my cartoon divisions of heaven and hell.
Jesus invites me to come and dance naked in hell because it is heaven. Can you hear the music?
Praise for God’s Help
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD!