The Lament of a Believer in Exile

"Ah, Jesus!
"Where have you gone?
"When did we lose you?
"Was it when we became so certain that we possessed you
"That we persecuted Jews,
"Excommunicated doubters,
"Burned heretics,
"And used violence and war to achieve conversion?
"Was it when our first-century images
"Collided with expanding knowledge?
"Or when biblical scholars informed us that the Bible does
"Not really support what we once believed?
"Was it when we watched your followers distorting people
"With guilt,
"And anger?
"Was it when we noticed that many who called you Lord
"And who read their Bibles regularly
"Also practiced slavery,
"Defended segregation,
"Approved lynching,
"Abused children,
"Diminished women,
"And hated homosexuals?
"Was it when we finally realized
"That the Jesus who promised abundant life
"Could not be the source of self-hatred,
"Or one who encourages us to grovel
"In life-destroying penitence?
"Was it when it dawned on us that serving you would require
"The surrender of those security-building prejudices
"That masquerade as our sweet sicknesses?

"We still yearn for you, Jesus, but we no longer know where
"To seek your presence.
"Do we look for you in those churches that practice certainty?
"Or are you hiding in those churches
"That so fear controversy that they make 'unity' a god,
"And stand for so little that they die of boredom?
"Can you ever be found in those churches that have
"Rejected the powerless and the marginalized,
"The lepers and the Samaritans of our day,
"Those you called our brothers and sisters?
"Or must we now look for you outside ecclesiastical settings,
"Where love and kindness expect no reward,
"Where questions are viewed as the deepest
"Expressions of trust?

"Is it even possible, Jesus, that we Christians are the villains
"Who killed you?
"Smothering you underneath literal Bibles,
"Dated creeds,
"Irrelevant doctrines,
"And dying structures?
"If these things are the source of your disappearance, Jesus,
"Will you then reemerge if these things are removed?
"Will that bring resurrection?
"Or were you, as some now suggest, never more
"Than an illusion?
"By burying and distorting you were we
"Simply protecting ourselves
"From having to face that realization?

"I still seek to possess what I believe you are, Jesus:
"Access to and embodiment of
"The Source of Life,
"The Source of Love,
"The Ground of Being,
"A doorway into the mystery of holiness.

"It is through that doorway that I desire to walk.
"Will you meet me there?
"Will you challenge me,
"Guide me,
"Confront me,
"Reveal your truth to me and in me?

"Finally, at the end of this journey, Jesus,
"Will you embrace me
"Inside the ultimate reality
"That I call God
"In whom I live
"And move
"And have my being?
"For that, Jesus, is my goal in this book.”