We did not give you an “artificial Jesus” even,
(an unkindness too mild for mission); 
we gave you a dangerous one,
no two-edged sword of truth coming out of his mouth
but a dagger in his hand or a shotgun crooked in his arm
to wreak savage violence against you
in the name of something so unholy 
that the only women and children allowed to witness it 
were your very own, ours safely oceans away 
in peaceful homes; and even your children
stolen away, too, placed in stark religious quarters
not to escape the sacrilege
but to face more unspeakable horrors
--for God’s sake--  
still echoing through the chambers of dark history.

We did not give you a self-offering Jesus
(the one who suffered unto death for life);
we gave you a triumphant one,
hoisting flags of countries competing— 
Protestant or Catholic warring to be first—
on the land you had reverenced 
for millennia, Spirit’s hallowed space,
your presence a sudden inconvenience
for Christian progress (an oxymoron, of course)
but church steeples and brick banks
soon lining streets cobbling over 
your sacred sites the better to convert you 
to the victory of the blood of the lamb
(metaphors notwithstanding),
the better to teach you to forget
your Corn Mother and others of her kind.

Indeed, we did not even give you the storytelling Jesus 
who might have fit well in one of your gathered circles,
adding parabolic ambiguities to your holy lore
of and with your ancestors 
and the ravens and bears, the trees and all the stones.
We gave you dogma at right angles
with square corners and sharp edges,
no room for difference or double meaning
or “we the people” or “many moons ago.”

We failed so monstrously to give you the one called Love,
who accepted Samaritans and Romans
and Jews of various kinds, 
the one who broke bread and drank wine 
with friends and strangers and betrayers 
making room at the table for all.
We more than wounded you, broke you 
into pieces, razed your culture flat,
did our best to make you clones of us.
It’s a wonder that any of you
met that real Jesus after all
and are still attending to him
but for his deftness at appearing
through locked doors, beyond tombstones 
and other seeming human impasses.

Still it’s a wonder that some of you are here,
these generations later, 
extending a peaceful feather, 
smudging us with prayer, 
speaking of reconciliation, 
adding tongues of healing, too,
not to dismiss the memories 
but resisting resentment’s bile

Wind whispering through the trees,
dawn rising once again, 
may our hearing be restored to listen now,
sister, brother, Two-Spirited friend;
teach us what we failed to learn in times gone by,
and may the Jesus in whom we meet
make a sacrament of the here and now,
beginning as we do again, dying to be reborn
in the waters of the oneness that we share,
flesh, bone, spirit, heart, and all.

Faith Nostbakken © 22/03/2021

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  1. Faith, in response to your heartbreaking poem “Jesus Red and White,” is the knowing that as we enacted (and as we still enact) the violence of arrogance “to make you clones of us” we unknowingly blotted/blot out the the Jesus of Love in our own hearts. Forgive us of our trespasses -that we may be disciples of His Love and not the violence of “what is not transformed (in us) is transmitted.” Thank you for this confession, written on behalf of so many of us.