IC XC: Jesus Christ, Ghetto’s Rose
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping it’s dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
…we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
– Paul, a 1st-century revolutionary Christian preacher
Today we stand at the foot of the cross. It is Good Friday. Christians the world over will be remembering, reflecting on, and creatively imagining the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion. Many Christians that inhabit different traditions of the faith will be emphasizing one of many of the images and/or symbols used to give meaning to the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross, for many, means substitution, sacrifice, ransom, moral example, and conqueror (or victor).
Today’s brief meditation will be through the image of Christ as Victor over Sin and Death…or to bring it to the street: Jesus, Ghetto’s Rose.
Tupac Shakur’s poem quote above captures the essence of this image: Christus Victor. Pac’s poem paints for us life in the ghetto. But it is a hopeful picture. He paints a picture of a resilient rose that is able to break through the concrete. The concrete represents ghetto-ization. The long history of marginalization, joblessness, structural inequities, violence, racial self-hatred, black nihilism and despair. It is a world not too far from the world of Jesus. A world of Roman Imperial oppression and its tragic consequences that left many out in the cold where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus hailed from Galilee. Essentially he comes from the hood or ghetto. His ministry is done primarily within this context, the margins of Roman Imperial power seated in Jerusalem. Jesus’ proclamation of the coming kingdom of God would be an alternative to the Roman Imperial order. It would be this order or false kingdom that would crucify Jesus.
Just as life is often smothered and strangled to death in the ghetto. True Life was crucified by Sin and Death by way of the Roman Imperial death grip. But as Tupac and the Gospel story remind us there is One who was victorious over the concrete of Sin and Death…Ghetto’s Rose, Jesus from Nazareth.