Christy Randazzo is a scholar and activist whose work has been engaged in bridging the divide between the contemplative nature of theological writing with the active, lived theology of congregational life. They have done ministry across multiple religious communities in diverse settings, finally becoming a Quaker while earning a PhD in Quaker theology from the University of Birmingham. They live in New Jersey with their spouse and daughter, and are a member of Haddonfield Friends Meeting, NJ.
Jesus’s followers seek a “prophet” who serves human desires for control and vengeance: the power his followers think is essential in order to defeat their human oppressors. They forget that the prophet only ever serves the Divine will, which has a vision wider than the cosmos, concerned with re-establishing the harmony that was written into the fabric of creation from its very beginning.
It is only in the memories of Jesus the fully human that we can find what I argue is the greatest power of the Passion for human lives held captive by the oppressive forces of Empire: the strength to face our crippling fear, stare the full oppressive might of the state in the face, and refuse to cede our full humanity – our joy, love, compassion, and hope – in service to the state’s liturgies of violence and fear.
The God present in the book of Jonah is a God who never gives up hope on anyone, even those who have perpetrated the worst evils. Also, the God present here is a God who demands that we repent thoroughly, completely, and without reservation. This is not a cheap reconciliation, but a very costly one indeed.
We are a people once asleep, now waking to a new world, where our forms of life have done irreparable harm to our earth and helped to unleash a deadly pathogen on ourselves. We must ask, how will these bones live?
The greatest potential implication of Isaiah 11:1–10 lies in the way it disrupts our expectations of justice, equality, and peace by framing of our narratives of the perfect society and unsullied nature. Rather than Utopia, the passage offers us a vision of a perfectly imperfect world order in absolute harmony.
The only true way to achieve success—even success in bringing justice to those who seek it, redistributing wealth towards the poor, and divesting oppressive hierarchies of their power—is to place our faith in God’s will for the world, and to follow God’s will for our lives, no matter where it leads.
Our societies are built upon the oppression of the poor and marginalised and yet, unless we remove ourselves entirely from the web of cords, laws, taxes, products, and biological needs inherent in twenty-first century life, we are forced to participate in the oppression of others, and the destruction of our habitats. We see, we know that the world is on the brink, yet we cannot escape. Facing such a reality, Jeremiah offers us a way forward: we lament, we express our rage, we retain hope by continuing to call for change, and through it all we never allow ourselves to be numbed or silenced by the enormity of it all.
Faith is an enacted practice we live into through our whole selves, continuously laying our souls and bodies bare and vulnerable before the unknown. The consequences of this are thoroughgoing, touching every single aspect of our lives and making demands on both our loyalties and our activities in the world.
The story of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundational memory of Christianity. It is a story that not only tells of God’s power over death and the fragility of the empire’s power over life, but also demands that all perspectives be heard, in a grand cacophony of voices, all in common song, singing of the impossible mystery: Jesus is risen, indeed.