Friday, March 21, 2008

Crucifiying a Pastor

The endless replaying of clips from Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons have left me both angry and depressed. When Jesus was crucified, to make him an example to anyone else who might consider questioning the reigning authorities, it was by hanging him on a cross - the most extreme form of execution in the Roman Empire. Well, in today's Empire, it would seem the best way to crucify someone is to carefully choose a few incendiary video clips, completely misrepresent their meaning, totally ignore the context, and watch as people tear away any spirit remaining in the body.

I have worshipped at Trinity UCC in Chicago and been blown away by both the power of the worship services as well as the length and breadth of their 70 different ministries in the community and around the world. When I lived in Cleveland I watched his sermons on TV every Sunday morning while getting ready for my own church. The depth of his scholarship and the power of his preaching enhanced my own. Occasionally I would catch my breath as I amazed that "he would go there." I might not have seen things his way all the time, but, of course, I haven't lived his experience. But I was always grateful to have a prophet speak what either I couldn't or what I had never considered.

Today is Good Friday and I have been considering the life of Jesus and the price he paid to confront the religious and political leaders of his day. It is ironic, or not, that this controversy over similar objectionable and offensive rhetoric would make the end of Rev. Wright's stellar career (he just retired last month, as long planned) so painful.

I have more to say, but I need to run. What have you been thinking? If you go to, you'll find some excellent commentary by our UCC President, John Thomas - in particular a piece he wrote entitled "What Kind of Prophet."