Today I am posting various artwork to create an online stations of the cross for my church. There are many interesting images that I found as I googled the various stations, great images pointing to racism, sexism, discrimination, but done in ways that so often offered chances at redemption, showing a God whose humanity was bigger than any way we can divide ourselves. Yet, there was one that stood out and hit me hard.
When looking for something for Station 9: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, I googled images based on the words Jesus do not weep for me and found something striking: a number of pictures of Miley Cyrus on the first page. What does this have to do with Jesus and the women of Jerusalem?
Luke 23 includes the text for this station:
A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
I can't say exactly why Miley Cyrus ended up connected to this or even if the connection is direct. It could as easily just be someone who is upset by what they think she has become as some connection to the scripture. Either way though the idea of Jesus weeping for or because of Miley Cyrus seems a bit off.
Yet, this is often the stuff we weep over, things that happen within the culture where we assume we have the answers for another. We claim we weep for the future, for our children who are growing up in a land of lawlessness and sexualization, yet we don't trust God to be in control, we want to make the decisions on what Jesus should cry over.
"Jesus, do not weep for me, but for those who see something good in this celebrity..."
"Jesus, do not weep for me, but for those who follow this type of politics..."
"Jesus, do not weep for me, but for those who hear your voice saying something I don't..."
"Jesus, do not weep for me, but for those who live differently..."
Yet, when we do this we become those who decide for Jesus, and thus for others, who they are, what they should be, and how they should live. Jesus chooses to continue his journey to death in this story. He does not ask for mourning, instead warning us that if those close to Jesus could not see what God was all about, how could those who do not have Jesus as a reference to God living in the world.
Those who could not see who Jesus was were afraid of him, afraid that his choices would damage their place in the world. They believed that a world without Jesus was one they could control, but we have seen time and again that God is the one in control. We cannot choose who Jesus weeps for, because Jesus weeps for all whom God loves that are not with Jesus and for those who will not discern what God is doing in their own lives and in the world. Jesus doesn't weep because he's worried about others, but because of pain in his heart.
We cannot know the heart of another, just those women could not understand why Jesus was at peace with the path he was walking. We so often want Jesus to weep over the choices of another so that we can feel that Jesus is patting us on the back for not being like them. Yet, we see time and again that God's way is one of surprising love and grace for those who society, even religious society (often especially religious society), outcasts and despises. Not just those weak due to station in life, but also those weak due to their own choices, those who seem far from God are often closer than we'd like to think.
So let us go forth this Good Friday, not seeing ourselves as those who are right, or with the answers, but as those who do not live as Jesus did. Those who weep due to worry, not do to pain. Those who want control, and in wanting control have let the wood become dry, falling short of being the church that gave all, short of the God who gave all, short of the call we received upon creation. May we weep for ourselves, but then may we remember that this weeping is not forever, for we are the ones called to join Jesus in bringing about this new world. A world of love, a world of diverse ways coming together as God brings us together in Christ's image, not as we make others into our image.