Devotion for April 22, 2021 from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King:
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.
Pictures are truly powerful. We all know that. That’s why we keep photos of the people we love in our house, save way too many pictures on our phones (taking up way too much storage). That’s why we try to catch the moments that are dear to us. What you don’t have a picture of, didn’t happen. Basically.
It’s nothing new under the sun. We believe in a God who knows about the power of images. That’s why God spoke through fiery bushes and great winds. And when people had a harder time listening to God through natural phenomena God became flesh. Took on a human body. A body that’s probably the most depicted body in the world. Mostly in vulnerable situations like being a naked baby in a manger and being a naked man dying at a cross. Not necessarily the kinds of images one would the world want to remember of oneself. I mean, what baby actually looks cute in the beginning? (Except of course, my babies, they were gorgeous… to me… no, objectively…, seriously.) And I have never seen people show pictures of their relatives upon their death. We want to remember the beauty of our loved ones, not the agony and tiredness. That, we remember anyways but don’t choose to be reminded of.
Yet, when it comes to Jesus, we very much remember his death. His crucifixion. His suffering and slow death. It’s how God chose to be remembered. By Jesus’ wounds, Jesus’ pain and desperation. The wounds that will never again go away. Not even through resurrection. It’s an image that vividly reminds us of who we are (sinner in the plain and simple meaning) and what we need to do to live into God’s promise for this world (believe in Jesus’ way to love and serve and DO it). Jesus’ crucifixion was just the beginning of our mission, not the end. Not because it was so unusual for the Roman Empire to crucify people. But because it was Jesus and his friends witnessed it and started telling the stories after they had seen the risen Christ. There wouldn’t be a story without the courageous bystanders.
During the last couple of weeks much has been said about the power of pictures. It’s been nearly a year since we watched George Floyd fight for his life and die. On camera, thanks to a courageous bystander, a young girl who just didn’t stop filming. The images sparked worldwide protests. Not, because it was so unusual for a Black man to die at the hands of the police. But, because we watched. Every day 3 people get killed by the police on average in the US, the majority of the victims are Black and Brown men and boys.
It took nearly a year to hold the murderer of George Floyd accountable. A first step towards justice. Really, just the beginning. Because holding a murderer accountable isn’t justice. Justice is when nobody gets killed anymore for looking threatening because someone is black, tall, big, you name it. 6 feet in the US always sounds like someone is a giant. 6 feet is shorter than the average German man. My son will one day be well taller than 6 feet. It all depends on the perspective.
Justice is when we don’t need proof anymore because no one dies in the first place. Justice is when we look at the cross and say: Wow, remember when humans used to kill humans? Whew, good thing we didn’t live back then. Justice is still a long way to go. Until then we may pray and act, that one day “justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry.” (Amos 5,24)
Your pastor Tia!