Here is my Sunday sermon:
The Son’s Salvation
He is sitting on his throne, hands gripped tightly on the rests. He is powerful and frighteningly vast; lightning flashes in his eyes and thunder is his voice. A blinding light hides his face, so that no one may look upon it and live.
There was an empty throne to his right, for I stood before him. He looked down at me and I knew he was angry. “I will destroy man whom I have created. They shall know my wrath!” he bellowed, “for I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End; I am the Creator and Lord of all; I am who I am.”
He was, once again, ready to start over, declaring that the next time, Mankind would choose the correct path.
Even I, his son, felt small in his intimidating presence. “But you have done this,” I told him. “You decided upon freewill. And since then, you have given them nothing but cold tablets and a book filled with rules, and you then expect them to worship you without ceasing. They only fear you because you have shown them no real grace.”
Roaring tongues of fire erupted and consumed his hair and beard. “I created the heavens and the earth for them!” he thundered.
He settled back into his throne and I waited until I could no longer feel the heat of the fire on my face.
“Spare them. Please.”
“Why?” he retorted. “They have such a brief, fleeting life. Nothing awaits them in the end.”
“It is precisely the shortness and fragility of their life that causes me to care. It’s all they have. Why destroy it?”
The light radiating from his face suddenly blazed and I had to shield my eyes. It then slowly dimmed until I could see an outline of his face. At first he revealed no emotion. And then, he looked… disappointed.
“If you care so much for them, then you may take their Fall. But, if you leave here, you will never return.”
His statement took my breath. I knew my father’s care had its limits, but to banish his own son for eternity? I looked over at the angels, who were still bowing to and worshiping my father. One looked up, anticipating my answer.
I glanced at my throne and then turned to look at the miniscule speck of blue situated in an immeasurable ocean of blackness: Earth; the realm that my father provided for his favorite creation.
I looked my father in the eyes. “Thank you,” I told him. I then turned and entered the world of Man.
Crude spikes penetrated my hands and both legs. A soldier below stabbed my side. I cried out in agony. The pain is something that I had never before experienced and its excruciating sharpness consumed me.
The crowd below laughed and spat at the base of the cross that held me high and exposed before them all. “Some Messiah you are!” one man yelled. Despite the fact that I had never claimed to be a messiah or king, they had shoved a crown of thorns into my scalp.
Perhaps my father was right. Man shouldn’t be saved. No; they didn’t deserve it. I tried with all of my might to call upon my father’s angels to free me from that cross and to destroy those ungrateful mortals who mocked me even then.
What had I done to make them hate me so? I merely taught to love your neighbor and your enemy as you love yourself. And yet they were crucifying me.
Yes, I called on legions of my father’s warriors.
But none came. There was no answer from my father at all.
“Father, why have you forsaken me?” I called out. I relaxed and let the weight of my body pull against the stakes.
Then I looked over and saw him. He looked like the Rest, but I knew him: he was Racism and Bigotry; Ignorance and Greed.
He was smiling.
I tried to lunge forward but only succeeded in tearing more flesh.
He spoke, though his mouth did not move. “To think that you could prevail in such a world. What a silly, idealistic notion.”
“If I could just teach them,” I heard myself saying, “If I could just open their eyes, they would see that what they share is greater than what divides them. I can teach them Compassion.”
“Your father forbade that Apple and hid it from them long ago, keeping it for himself. Why do they bother you so? Even He has left them,” he said, glancing up to the heavens.
“Yes, but I am here –”
“You are nailed to a cross!” he shouted out loud.
I blinked. And then looked down and saw blood, so much blood. There were two men, one on either side of me, both talking, but I paid them no attention. I was dying.
The sun dipped below the horizon and the world grew dark. I knew my father had turned away from this world. A tear slid down my cheek. I breathed my final breath and then hung my head.
I’m sitting in an alley, just off the busy, main street. I readjust myself, trying to find a more comfortable position against the concrete wall of the skyscraper behind me. I place a cigarette between my lips and search my pockets for my lighter.
“God?” someone asks. I look up and see a man, incredulous look on his face, stepping into the alley.
“Close,” I mutter before lighting my cigarette.
“Are you really him?” he asks.
“On who you mean,” I say and take another drag. The man doesn’t say anything for a moment.
“May I have a seat?” he asks.
“Of course,” I say and spread out some newspaper for him to sit on. “Sorry I didn’t offer sooner.”
“It’s alright,” he says as he sits down.
I smile. It’s alright he told me. I chuckle. He forgave me.
“Do you mind?” he asks, and I look over to see that he’s pointing at my cigarette. “The smoke kind of bothers me.”
My smile continues and I snub out the cigarette. “Yeah, dirty habit,” I admit. “So,” I say, “Ask anything.”
The man exhales; the enormity of the opportunity is obviously daunting. “Since you’re here, does that mean that the End is here, as well?”
My smile drops a little, but I answer him. “People speak of a Second Coming, but what they don’t realize is that I never left.” I pause, and then,” That wasn’t the question you really want to ask.”
He looks over, looks me in the eyes, and then quickly glances away. “I just don’t understand. Any of it.”
I take a moment to think. “People often mistake the simple outcome of History as my father’s favor. But do you think that some living so lavishly while others suffer from the day of their birth is all part of some mysterious plan?”
The man just stares at his shoes. I continue. “My father retreated from this world long ago. Only I am here now.”
The man clenches his jaws. “So much blood has been shed in your name,” he says with a forced calm. But, his next words spill from his mouth. “Why don’t you reveal yourself?! Why don’t you come forward and straighten out the world? Why don’t you perform miracles and show people that you are still here?!”
He is angry, but he is angry at the rampant injustice that has existed since the beginning, and so I stay calm.
“Miracles?” I ask. “I stepped into the world of Man armed with the most powerful and infinitely beautiful miracle of all: the message of Compassion. It is not a new message and it is a miracle that you yourself can perform every single day.
“I have watched acts of Compassion since the very beginning, but unfortunately, it always seems that its enemies are more aggressive. I thought if only I could come and devote my life to teaching that Message…”I trail off.
But then continue. “But since then I have watched one empire fall only to be replaced by another just as driven by Power and Greed. I have ached as Exploitation and Indifference spread seemingly unchallenged. My Words are highlighted in red, but are seldom actually read.
“But at the same time, I’ve heard dalai lamas, imams, and preachers alike teach my Message in ways I never could. I’ve seen my works carried out by single parents, farmers, peasants, and students. I’ve witnessed atheists follow the Scripture of Compassion closer than ‘believers.’
“You see, these people who recognize the humanity of others, who appreciate the diverse human experience, they understand what it really means to be saved, to be released from the bonds of Ignorance and Hate. That is the salvation that I, Compassion, bring. You don’t need a book or any deity to realize that salvation has been available to everyone, and through everyone, since this world began.”
We sit in silence for several minutes. The man is thinking and I can sense that he is even a bit hurt. Knowing that salvation lies in the hands of humanity can be overwhelmingly disheartening. But, I am comforted in knowing that I am sitting next to my Equal; his heart is full of Compassion. It feels good to be in his presence, and perhaps I am once again saved.
But I know that there is one more thing that he wants to ask; it’s the same question that everyone wants to ask me.
“Go ahead,” I tell him.
He bites his lip, partly because there is a little bit of anger welling up in him. But I also think it’s partially because he is afraid that he may already know my answer.
He stares somewhere past me. “There has been so much suffering, so much hurt.” He then looks at me in the eyes. “Where were you?” he pleads.
I don’t blink, but hold his gaze for a moment. I can feel my heart beating in my chest.
My voice cracks slightly. “Where were you?”
He hangs his head and rests his hands on his knees. A single tear runs down his cheek, and it reminds me of that day so long ago when I too realized that it was Mankind that had nailed me to that cross.
“The Son’s Salvation” by W. J. Newsome is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.