Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cutting Ears for Jesus & Dancing to the Future's Melody

Daily(ish) Blogging in Lent 2016 - Day Twelve

Judas. And the police. And the soldiers. The religious leaders with big names and swollen heads. They were all there to sanction and to sanctify his arrest. With torches and weapons they came in the night. When nobody could see. When the crowds who had been fed and healed and forgiven, made to walk(!) had returned to their homes or their fields or wherever it was they would sleep and dream.  

Good government jobs. Well funded church gigs. These did not come for food. They were already well fed. They came to sanction and to sanctify his arrest. To shut him up. To shut him down. They were there to detain and to kill Peter’s Rabbi, his friend, “the Holy one of God” (John 6:69). He was a threat. 

What was an aspiring saint to do? 


He cut Malchus’ ear! Peter had a sword. He used it. 

Not because Malchus was the guiltiest, the most threatening to Peter and his friends, to Peter and his Lord. Only because he was the closest. He was nearby. And Peter couldn’t just stand there. He had to do something. 

What would you have done? Would you have had a sword? 


Peter had a longing for God’s Kingdom, for a New Reign, for a world where the last become first and everyone is able to live. To live abundantly. To eat. 

Peter desired it so much, with every ounce of his being, that it possessed him. His thoughts and his actions were taken by it. By this image, by this imagination, by this dream. And to this dream, all of his senses were drawn. The kingdom of God was within him (Luke 17:21). It was close, in his heart and on his lips. Tangible. He could taste it. 

And this night. This site, this place, this event: Christ’s betrayal and arrest. All of this, this whole thing was the antithesis to everything he had hoped for, longed for. This was the antithesis to everything Jesus stood for, preached about. Peter had devoted his life, spent his well being, strained his family ties and lost his fisherman's insurance on the promise, the hope, the dream of something better in Christ. 

Thy Kingdom come. 

And this was not “Thy Kingdom.” 

It was Caesar’s kingdom. Caesar crucifies. Public humiliation. Fear. Scare tactics. This was Empire. State sanctioned terrorism. Faith sponsored death, persecution, blood. Brother betraying brother. Power bowing to money, profits over people, the justification of human sacrifice, the cost of a nice retirement home on the coast, the promise of an “escape,” for those who bought in or sold out, away from them, the crowds. Away from those thousands who gathered around Jesus for food, for healing, those who left, to their homes or their fields, able to dream. Away from the suffering, hungry crowds. Out of sight… 

Caesar’s Reign, the antithesis—killing prophets, because prophets call for change for all, for the humanization of the poor. Killing prophets because they call for reform, something New. “A new heavens and a new earth.” “Resurrection.” 

Challenge is disturbing. Resurrection implies death. Change means discomfort. We don’t want to be disturbed. We don’t want disturbance. We make laws against it. “Nuisance.” “Noise.” “Disruption.” We call for law and order. The soldiers. The police. The high priests. For “peace and security.” Peace. Safety. Security. Even if that means sacrifice, violence, blood. Even if that means crucifixion. 

We sanction and sanctify it. 

Peace. But no justice. No liberation. Keep those crowds in the wilderness, worshipping. Build walls around them. Let Jesus give them food, calm them down, teach them to pray! But kill their leader, kill their rabbi, if he brings them to the city. 

Hosanna! (John 12:13)

Crucify him! (John 19:15) 

Peter’s body responded. Fight or flight. Cut off his ear. 

There was blood. 

They arrested Jesus anyway. 

Peter’s action was futile. 

Jesus healed Malchus. 


Jesus was assassinated. By the government. They pulled the lever. They washed their hands. They passed blame. 

Jesus died. He was buried. 

Peter renounced him in fear. “Thrice.” (John 18:15-27)

Jesus Resurrected. 

Peter went through a rebirth of his own. 


Rubem Alves once  suggested that “Hope is hearing the melody of the future. Faith is to dance to it.” (Tomorrow’s Child, Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2009 Edition, 195). 


When Jesus was gone, Peter was left with his vision—the Reign of God where the last are first, and all have life abundant; where everyone is able to eat. He heard the melody of the future that he had heard since his call at the seaside. 

In the resurrected Christ, he learned to dance. 

He too would suffer and die in hope, proclaiming the Reign at hand. But his hope would not be in vain. He would founded whole communities, churches, organizations, planting this hope, humming this tune, “Lord to whom shall we go?” “Your words are for abundant life.” 

Gathering around this vision. 

A mustard seed that takes over the fields.

A child’s flute makes the mountains dance. 



The church of the Crucified, over time, would become the priests. The ones who accompany Judas and his forces. The ones who crucify. What a shame. The Church built her own Crosses, crucifying her own prophets and “heretics” and people of good will. Crucifying gay and muslim and African. Bodies. Bleeding. The Church became like Caesar. Horrible. Sin. 

The melody was muffled. Adapted. Drown out. 

The dream was suppressed, forgotten, hidden away. 

The dream for a world where the last become first and everyone is able to live. To live abundantly. To eat… Where did it go? “Waking nightmare.” 

But the melody cannot be repressed forever. In each generation it emerges a new. An act of the Spirit. Love that is stronger that death, stronger that everything in all creation (Romans 8:38-39). Greater is the one in you than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). 

Hope is hearing the melody of the future. Faith is to dance to it.

The song has returned. Will we learn to dance? 

Will we hope in the New Reign? “Thy Kingdom come?” Will we stand by, crucify, for a sense of safety, of security? Will we draw our sword? Will it be in vain?

Will we plant the seeds of hope, a vision for the future? Will we sing the melody of liberation and a just peace, until all are able to live, to eat, to dance? 

Will we feed the crowds? Teach crowds to dance, to sing the melody? 

What will we do? 

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