What a Bloody Mess We’ve Made

moon-963926_1280Adolescent gamers know
moms are more likely to approve their game choice
if they turn off the blood.
Somehow, bloodless slaughter
is more tolerable
socially acceptable
easy to bear.
Network television executives, too,
know the secret to engaging us
in violent flicks during primetime
is to edit the blood.
Bloodless violence slides under the door
of our living room sensibilities
and becomes family entertainment.
But, the church is guilty of this whitewashing, too.
Taking a trick from the world,
the minds behind the drive for mass showings on Sunday mornings
have removed all signs of blood
from our story of faith
so the squeamish can sit comfortably,
believing their hands will remain clean.
But the gospel is more like a scene from Macbeth than Mayberry
and every attempt to squelch the true nature
of what we are preaching
only results in rooms full of corpses, sitting upright but drained and ready for embalming.
For we tell a blood-stained story
of a God who bled out on our behalf
betrayed by men with blood they can never wash from their hands,
horrifically crucified at the cry of a bloodthirsty crowd
to pay the blood ransom for our own souls.
It’s a bloody mess, this story we tell,
like a butcher shop the day before Easter,
it reeks of warm, sticky death as the man with the knife slits the belly of another perfect lamb.
When we forget the slaughter,
when we turn off the blood,
edit out the lacerations,
mute the agonized screams, the salty tears landing on open wounds,
and the sight so horrible mothers would have shielded their children’s eyes from the man who most surely did not appear to be human towards the end,
when we forget the slaughter of the cross,
we forfeit our part in the resurrection.
Securing our redemption was bloody business,
not for the faint of heart,
adult-only viewing,
an ugly treacherous testimony to man’s capacity for bloodlust and evil,
poured out on the One
from whom all creation sprang,
One who was guiltless.
One who was perfect.
One who loved exquisitely, lavishly, extravagantly
to the point of spending His last breath
on our salvation.
If we are people of truth,
If we represent the Perfect Lamb of God
then we must follow the trail of blood
that leads to our own hands
forming fists as we wave at Pilate
demanding the crucifixion of the One who healed us,
gripping the metal studded leather whips as they tore Him skin from bone,
grasping the hammers that drove the nails through His tender hands and feet
as He loved us even when we were spattered in His warm blood.
Covered with blood, He forgave us.
Covered by His blood, we stand forgiven.
There are no clean white dresses on Sunday
without the bloody mess that came before.
Don’t turn your gaze too quickly from what transpired on Friday,
it’s what it looks like when there is work only Love can do,
it’s what it looks like when the heart of Love is torn open and put on display,
it’s what it looks like when God pays the price for the bloody mess we’ve made,
it’s what it looks like in the heartbeat of time when we are redeemed.
Does all the blood of the gospel make you uncomfortable?
May that holy discomfort drive us all to our knees at the foot of the cross where Love bled out and set us free.

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    The Conversation

  1. Maxine D says:

    Thank you for your powerful thoughts, beautifully expressed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As we enter the church on Easter Sunday, concerned that everyone see our new clothes, our special shoes, our spring hats, and hoping the sermon is short so we can celebrate dinner with family and friends, how many will take time to silently pray a thanksgiving, say Thank You, say I love You, accept that our Easter Sunday is the result of the bloody scene you described? Or will we be looking for a warm spring, happy children with Easter candy, and new cothes to represent our Easter. He descended into hell, bruised and bloody, so we could live eternally. Your blog gives a realistic view of Easter Sunday. Lest we forget Gethsemane! Thank you.