I think just about everyone knows this one by heart, but I thought I'd put it up anyway. No reason for me to be the only one with an earworm this morning
Dorothee Soelle says "If I esteem him (Christ) then I lift him ever higher and have nothing to do with him, I use my admiration to keep myself free of Christ."
Another place I see this, and I may be drawing on my years in Texas for this, but there is the phenomenon of the Food Uv The Crows. You may know it better as the Foot Of The Cross, but in Texas we just say Food Uv The Crows. This is heard most often when there has been some conflict which people are keen to sweep under the rug. "Whale," they say, "We need ta jus all gather together at the food uv the crows..."
Of course they never suggest exactly what will be accomplished by this, who will accomplish it, or what possible good it might do. But it sounds almost as good as lift high the cross. Regrettably, it has the same result which is to keep us from traveling along with Jesus, to isolate us (either above or below) and to distract us from the journey with images of false glory or false humility, neither of which are helping us along the path.
At one time my solution to this was that what we needed to do instead was gather around the eucharistic table. That way, I reasoned, we were at least looking at one another. A lot of religious people used to like it when I talked about that. But that was really very similar to lifting up, and gathering 'round. It separates. Jesus is over there in the bread. Now he is somewhere in me. Oh, look, he's over there in you too maybe. Where the hell IS Jesus?
Since then I have come to see all so-called sacraments as mere tools that the clergy use to manipulate the laity and to keep themselves separate and holy... not like us pew warmers, the sheeple. If all us lambs behave properly -- which is never spelled out -- then can come to church and eat Jesus. Otherwise you will be ostracized out, made to feel unwelcome, or, like me, just kicked out. I used to worry about that because I was a big fan of the sacrament, and it was hard on me not having ready access. I do not believe, though, that Jesus would want me going around kow-towing to a god-damned priest for what has already been given freely and lovingly. If all I get is clerical scraps, begged from a lilly-white table then I'll find God somewhere else.
And, of course, what with God being everywhere and all, that has not been difficult.
When I was a young adult I was not what you would call a real proponent of the poor. I thought it was nice that they came to church, and we had a shelter, and a food pantry. Oh, I thought all that was fine, but I didn't really want anything to do with it. Yet for the last decade or so I have found that every time I look up I am surrounded by the most vulnerable and despised people of any community. I am working out what that means for me. Where Jesus is. How to go along with him.
There are lots of ways I've separated myself from him over the years. More recently I thought it was good to go around telling people about him, telling them that they were accepted and loved. I even got a little gig preaching at a church in Wuxi and I told people how God loved them all. Oh, that was great. Then I realized that nobody wants to hear about love and acceptance. They want to be loved and accepted. And I thought, "Dang, God... I was doing good with that." But it was still a way for me to do something for others, something for God, something for myself too because I quite enjoyed that. But it wasn't walking along with Jesus, his poor, his vulnerable, unarmed, undocumented, shamed ones.
And in other ways I've done better.
Sometimes it is hard for me to tell what I'm doing.