the worst thing

The worst thing is to proclaim hate in Jesus’ name—
to claim to follow God and to walk the paths of violence—
violent language, violent ideas and imagery, violent action.
Sean Harris, Curtis Knapp, Fred Phelps, Jeff Sangl, Charles Worley,
your names have become known.
You mock the Most High;
you deny the Incarnation of God;
you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit;
you undermine the gospel;
you pervert the Bible.

It may be how you were raised.
It may be what you were taught.
It’s how you now raise others.
It’s what you teach.
It’s wrong.

You claim to confront our culture,
in the name of God,
but you mirror the worst of it—
afraid, angry and violent—
our culture of which I am, I confess,
a sustaining part.

So I recommit myself anew
to exploring and telling and teaching and loving
the story of the God who comes
to our culture not to be shaped by it,
but to transform it—
and to transform it through initiatives that lead to the cross
not by the initiative of the sword.

I recommit myself to the God
who comes to fear, and does not ignore it—
does not deny it, but confronts it in the assurance of love;
who comes to anger and does not ignore it—
does not deny it, but embraces it in the possibility of hope;
who comes to violence and swallows it,
loving those who indulge it,
but refusing to pass it along—
refusing to continue the process—
the God who comes to creation
and still names it so very good,
who revels in every celebration of love
and works through those who love
in hope and expectation of the new day.

I recommit myself anew
to the God made incarnate in love—
in forgiveness and grace—
who has always reached out
to those hurt and excluded, denied, rejected,
mocked, despised and persecuted.
And so I commit myself too,
to the hurt and excluded, the denied and rejected,
the mocked, despised and persecuted.

I embrace that God—that story—that calling—
that I might be embraced in truth and grace—
rejecting the myth of any kind of redemptive violence—
that I might continue being redeemed
and participate in the redeeming of all creation.

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