I shared this poem during the Sunday service on August 3, and a few folks asked if they could see the words, so I offer it again here for them and for others who may have missed it.

Many of us are familiar with this diagram to illustrate how Christ’s cross bridges the gap between a holy God and sinful humanity:

But I always wondered what happens when you get half way across and the sticky-up part of the cross gets in the way:

So I wrote this poem as a reflection on what happens after the first easy steps of faith have been taken and the hard work of discipleship begins.

Challenge Wall Trust Fall

they made it sound so simple

God loves you and has a perfect plan and

Jesus is the drawbridge across the chasm caused by

the serpent’s seduction Eve’s advice and Adam’s avarice a

group production producing prodigal progeny perpetually

digging deeper our original ditch now bridged by Christ’s cross

consult this handy dandy diagram designed to

simplify stepping out saying sorry for sins

accepting access to amazing grace granted freely not

cheaply cheating death at Christ’s cost a

bargain bridge bathed in blood but pamphlets and pious peer pressure render this

ransom rather abstract in four-act tracts and altar call asks that

mask the Great Commission’s complete mission to

make disciples who obey and imitate incarnate

beatitude blessings for poor persecuted peacemakers to

turn cheeks turn tables with confronting love for enemies invited to

eat a feast of flesh and blood found offensive by

former followers anticipating easy answers and imperial agendas

not unlike evangelicals’ electoral ambitions

countless crusades for crass

causes occasionally compassionate for cute kids and cameras but

consistently committed to capital and co-opted by Capitol access

crossing land and sea to capture converts quickly confused by

culturally conditioned corruptions of Christ’s call to

count the cost

take up the cross

when crossing the chasm starting steps stay steady but

get ready halfway to heaven there’s a hell of a hill when

you hit the wall the tall order of Christ’s call to walk his way WWJ

wage war not with the world’s weapons but

by bearing your cross even

to crucifixion a

stumbling stick to victory-addicted Dick Cheney ditto-heads

skipping Lent for Fat Tuesday feasts every week while

waiving Kingdom requirements of daily disciplines beyond

cute quiet time-out bouts of devotional dentifrice daily brushing up

your “personal relationship” weird words to

describe Bible-browsing and whispered wish lists let’s

lose language that’s misleading lest less enlightened acolytes lose

their sincerity out of insecurity and inferiority complexes

contemplative complexions faking feelings to

seem super-spiritual wanting to worship backward for how it makes you feel

flogging in-your-face inflated ego-stroking ear-candy standards

straining to hear the Spirit in spite of pseudo-soft-rock stars’ saccharine sentiment

this is the air I breathe and

I—I’m desperate for you to

drop this dumbed-down drippiness my giddiness better inspired by

the dizzy height when I climb to the crux when I

survey the wondrous cross

count riches loss pour contempt on pride forbidden to

boast in vain things that charm me most

check my motives make others’ comfort my concern

make Christ the center not myself

make his members my mentors

contending with tensions extending despite attempted dissections and

shared dissentions athletic alignments and amistad actions

advances and retreats to reduce our defenses against friendship

forged in intimate awkwardness washing feet

feasting on philos found in food and fraternal foibles boyish barriers lowered by

bacon and basketball and boisterous bets whether

poker is a proper part of proselytizing perhaps not publicly but

even orthopraxy provides permissiveness as long as the

liabilities of license’s lusts are limited without legalism’s cannibalism

can we cross the chasm climb this cross-post challenge wall while

working in one accord ropes-course-style stretching and straining to

boost our brethren the fingers of our family of fellowship gripping

grasping gasping pushing pulling us

over the top cradled by community to reach out in unity not

cocooned in conformity save in the cross of Christ our God at

times a weary road we trod and bitter the chastening rod but

better dead than led astray by smooth-tongued tricksters trading in

itching ear theories of health wealth or whatever you want to hear from

here to Armageddon rapture riddles refreshed every election to

make you hate the scapegoat of the season call it treason to

love the enemy

welcome the stranger

heal the sick without making money an

unfunny farce to force-feed creeds out of context

proof-texting terrorists seek constitutional commandments

recommended to make myopic measures of immorality merit immolation one

nation under God but

run by bullies who give Christ a bad name according

to international evangelical cousins bearing our

curse no small burden with the bridges we’ve burned but

Christ’s call is still a free-for-all and

the chasm can be crossed just

count the cost

an arm and a leg and your life laid down like the Lamb

little children let us love not in locution but in location and

incarnation’s vocation for truth in action a reaction that reassures our hearts

when doubts condemn us

God is greater and knows better

his commandment to believe him and love each other like Christ’s wife

aka the church which is also his body the metaphors mix but

the substance stands fixed:

a span stretched from God to humanity

perfectly planned but pricey

it takes a community both

in infinite Trinity and in Christian finity to form our family for eternity

join the party it’s no picnic skip the gimmicks don’t

mimic academic tricks and stick figure schticks trash the tracts just

trust the love lavished deep and wide across the divide and

abide as Christ’s bride made beautiful for the wedding banquet because

Jesus is our husband not our boyfriend but better

get ready to work once the wedding is over when

marriage makes us martyrs

no not al Qaeda’s kamikazi killers

more likely domestically task-distracted guilt-mongerers like

Martha Martha Martha worried by many things wanting

help with housework complaining to Christ who

would not take the better part from the sister seated at his feet

more like Mother Mary’s submission impossible to the angel Gabriel:

“here am I

let it be with me according to your word” wisdom words of

wisdom a witness whispered in wonder a

Magnificat manifesto

the Mighty One has done great things for me

scattered the proud

lifted the lowly

filled the hungry

and the wealthy should consider themselves luckier than the flaming failure in

the Rich Man and Lazarus if the worst thing that happens is a tax hike

hell hath no fury worse than Godless eternity across the chasm  

fixed between greedy goats and meek not weak sheep led by

a sharp-tongued Lamb whose word is a sword that destroys strongholds puts

princes in their place and laughs at nation-states so

stop worrying about what you’ll eat or drink or drive your

hairs are counted if uncombed from your Babylon bed-head so

ready set go wake up get up stand up

start careening across this crazy cross-shaped balance beam lean

neither too far right nor left leap

that steep stump of a steeple with help from your people and find yourself

falling across the It Is Finished line into the Everlasting Arms

that reach across the breach at the last gasp to catch your sorry

behind crash landing leaning leaning leaning

in the Everlasting Arms