Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sadly, We Maintain the Status Quo

Holy Week is always something of a roller coaster ride. We go from the triumphant march into Jerusalem during which "sweet Hosannas ring" to a steady plodding toward death. We know, even as we sing Hosanna, that we will, before the week ends, be singing "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded." And then, in the dark at the start of the Easter Vigil we see the new fire, we baptize new brothers and sisters in Christ and we begin the rejoicing of the resurrection. For church musicians, the rapid cycling of Holy Week comes in two hour blocks of rehearsals, so we are really buffeted.
For most believers, this Holy Week roller coaster ride is tempered by "normal" life, the life led outside devotion and worship. For those of us who supported repeal of the death penalty in Colorado, the roller coaster dominated more aspects of our lives.
I was struck by a meditation I read this week:
But, let me ask you, what of someone who is not a good person?  How do we feel about that person's death?  I think the basic human reaction is one of justification -- they got what they deserved.  So, in considering the death of Judas, don't we withhold our sympathies?  Maybe shake our heads and purse our lips?
The thing about death is that it is so final, whether it is the death of a good person, like Jesus, or a "bad" person, like Judas.  Scripture tells us that God does not value the death of anyone. But we, in our humanness, do make a distinction. In the death of Jesus, isn't that fallacy uncovered as well? Are we not to seek and serve Christ in all persons, regardless?
The demands of the Gospel are both for compassion for those who suffer, and for action that raises the dignity of every person. Sin does much to devalue human life. As disciples of Jesus, should we not, as he did, do what we can to be a corrective to that trajectory?
 I was hopeful that our House Judiciary committee would do their part to correct our death penalty trajectory, Sadly, they did not. Maybe they salved their consciences with the possibility of putting the death penalty before the people, but that will not happen. We will continue to kill people as our way of saying that killing someone is deserving of death. We will maintain the status quo.
This year, the roller coaster of Holy Week has a different perspective for me. I've hit an extra bottom this year, the disappointment of today's vote on the repeal of the death penalty feels like an extra trip to Golgatha. It is only in the certainty of the coming Easter that I find hope.

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