cut in half

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Lectionary / Psalm / Year A

A short reflection on Psalm 133 , the psalm for Proper 15a, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.

Ihaven’t been able to get the crisis in Iraq out of my head. The ancient Christian community in Mosul (formerly known as the biblical city of Nineveh), which dates to the most ancient of times, is now empty. Children are beheaded and their heads rest on pikes. Women are raped. Hordes of people are walking to Syria – because there’s a place that just screams “all safe over here.”

But, I really think it was the article about the Anglican priest in Baghdad who was grieving over the child he had baptized who had been cut in half for the high crime of being a Christian.

He had held this child in his arms and poured sacred water over his head, welcoming him into the Body of Christ. He had anointed his little supple forehead with sacred oil. He had celebrated with the child’s parents. The parents had named the child after him.

And, in the name of a bastardized form of a religion – whose name literally means “peace” -this child was cut in half.

I’m truly guilty of being an uncaring American who hears yet another report of yet another country over there where yet another insane human atrocity is committed…uttering something about how horrible it all is, and then going right back to pinning some impressionist landscape on Pinterest. I’m totally guilty of zoning out when the news turns to the Middle East, and images of desert vistas with men wearing scarves point guns and bazookas at the the enemy. I go back to my video game. Or my book. I change the channel to something which actually interests me.

Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of all the bombing and killings in Gaza, the girls who were abducted in Africa, and now the direct persecution of Christians (and Christian children) in Iraq that has raised the carnage to a level that has reached saturation in my highly distracted mind and heart.

Oh, how good and pleasant it is,
when brethren live together in unity!
It is like fine oil upon the head
that runs down upon the beard.

I suppose those words are true. I mean I guess they are.

Though perhaps it would be more truthful to say that they might be true, if these words were ever practiced.

I get glimpses of it every now and again. When I reconcile with someone I have wronged, or someone who has wronged me… Gosh that feels good.

But, it’s a fleeting feeling, because then I turn on the news again, and someone else is beheaded, or blown up, or raped, and the good feelings dissolve like dandelion fur in the hand of a child.

We so desperately need to find a way to be brethren, and quite frankly we don’t have any time to waste. We need to find a way to not be adherents of this religion or that, members of this kabal or that administration, watchers of MSNBC or FOX… We need to be first brothers. First, sisters.

And a great deal of the responsibility of that rests on the people holding the guns and drawing up the battle plans. But, a solid portion of the responsibility rests on me and you to regard the innocents and the enemies as our brothers and sisters. People who are worthy of caring about, worthy of our love, worthy of our attention, worthy of our outrage.

It might be easy to shoot them, or change the channel when they are shooting at them again. But, it’s harder to shoot a brother, to care less about a sister.

What can we do? Won’t they just always be shooting themselves and blowing each other up over there?

Maybe. But, if we started caring over here it just might make a difference. And fine oil might just run down the beard for the first time.

The Author

follower of Jesus, father of two, husband of one, Episcopal priest, with one book down, one blog up...surrounded by empty jars of nutella