Moving Beyond Barabbas

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Mark 15:15     15 Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified. (CEB)
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]


The story is so familiar.
so romanticized,
so admixed with
the accounts by Matthew, Luke, and John
and the preaching of 20 centuries
that it is difficult
to separate fact from fiction
to appreciate the mythology
of the ubiquitous venture…

A man standing by and with the poor
over against the ruling powers
of government
and the religious establishment
unwilling to mount a defense
where no defense will matter.

So he stands silent
and is found guilty.

He is found guilty
of speaking truth to power,
of sedition,
of ‘pissing off’ the establishment.

No wonder he had to die
on behalf of us all
for we, too, stand outside
the halls of power.

It seems strange
for a Teaching Elder
who has served as Executive Presbyter
to be on the outside…

I was trained to lead a dying church,
educated in the ways that ‘used to be,’
taught to preach with eloquence
but not with truth.

Like a lamb
I followed
with little direction
in the path of least resistance.

I am Barabbas
imprisoned with the rebels
voice-less and
even worse —
a voice that babbled

a mind that speculated
old worn-out and withered truths.

Little did I know that seminary
was the processing center
for the prison called
“the religious establishment”
that I was formed to be a long robe
spouting “eternal truths”
that led people into captivity
and not freedom, not abundant life!

So, what has happened
to make a difference now
to loose the fetters
and open my mouth?

Why am I now willing
to be radical
in my thinking,
if not in my actions?

Maybe being on a cross
in the presence of Yeshua
is the one freeing action
that leads to abundant living…
abundance that cannot
be lived alone (released)
but must be shared
with others on crosses

I have found a new language
that has given me my voice
a new framework for old ideas
that has given me my thoughts.

I have deepened my friendship
with a soul brother

who has walked with me
through deepest darkness.

I have found light in the darkness
life in the midst of smoldering death;
I have found a Way
and one who brings the messianic
into the midst of daily life
abundant life into the midst of the ordinary
one who stood with the marginalized
one who stood with me and for me.

The Way I found
(or did it find me?)
has not changed the world
but it has changed me
transformed me
deconstructed and rebuilt me
with voice and intellect
with sentence and reason.

Is that enough?

Am I willing and able
to convey a coherent word
to speak truth to power,
to lay it on the line
for those shackled
by the institutions of power
and repression?

Am I willing to speak a truth…
am I willing to speak…
am I willing…
Am I?

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?
thank you, God, for forsaking me
for leaving me with responsibility for myself
and respond-ability with others.

Now, as an adult,
it is time really to hear it
to feel the insistence calling
to accept the invitation
to be moved by the lure
to follow the calling

to step away from the cross
and live into the resurrection
that stirs within

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