“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
I mean were you there!
Hey man! I was there, really there…
When the nails tore into His hands,
those gentle, caring, healing hands,
Those hands stretched out in love,
that had been stretched out in Creation,
that had passed a spark of life into Adam,
that were torn and broken on the cruel cross,
that showed what man gives back to God!
I mean, I was there, man
when He said: “Let there be light.”
When the first Fundamentalist
preached righteousness for over a hundred years
to people who are as heedless as they are today,
and when that same, crazy old Noah,
who built a ship on a mountain top,
entered the Ark and it was shut,
and sealed from the outside.
Hey! I got seasick!
When He called Abraham
and spoke to Moses, out of the burning bush.
When he parted the Red Sea,
and the rebel Jews left Egypt, loaded with loot
and Pharaohs army was drowned
leaving the sea bottom strewn
with hundreds of chariots.
When God preached through Isaiah
to a stubborn and rebellious people.
I was there with the early Christians
who huddled in the catacombs
and were torn to pieces in the arena,
I can hear them singing,
drowning out the roar of the lions
and the louder, animal like roar of the crowd!
Three centuries later, I was there when
an Eastern Christian monk
holding up the cross, rushed in between two gladiators
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, stop!”,
the angry mob ripped him apart
but Emperor Honorius was so moved
the games were banned forever!
I was there with the Anabaptists and the Lollards
when they were burned at the stake by Holy Mother Church
for reading the Bible and preaching salvation.
I was there when when Luther defied Pope and Emperor
with a conscience captive to the Word of God.
You should have heard me! “Go for it!”
I sailed with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower,
those unlicensed, unchartered outlaws of the Church of England.
The ship stank of sour wine, its previous cargo.
Hey! I was there on that Errand in the Wilderness!
I fought in the English Civil War, side by side with Oliver Cromwell
when outnumbered three to one,
they drove the kings Cavaliers right of the field!
And I was there at Valley Forge with Washington,
leaving behind comrades-in-arms and ancestors.
I broke the law in the underground railway
and again in Europe, helping Jews escape the Nazis,
and again in America trying to save unborn babies.
I did it, and I’m glad and I’d do it again!
No, physically, historically I wasn’t there at all these times and places but emotionally, spiritually, philosophically, I was. What is Christian history? A continuation of the providential acts of the true and living God. It is the unfolding story of our Christian brethren whom we will one day meet in Heaven! This great cloud of witnesses who have gone on before us, often having sealed their testimony with their blood. One day, I will walk those streets of gold to shake hands with all those wonderful, Jewish Old Testament people Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ruth, Esther, Adam, Moses, Etc. I can tell them how they blessed my life! Paul, Peter, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, etc. But beyond that, all these I have mentioned in my poem and many more! Ah yes! So great a cloud of witnesses!
Books to read :
The Church of Our Fathers, Roland Bainton
Church History in Plain Language, Dr. Bruce Shelley,
first edition for a good primer, 2nd edition for a more detailed account. The same is true for Bainton.
The God of Christianity is not an abstract philosophical concept but a real person who acts in history. He is treated, however, like He went out of business in 100 A.D. and came back recently.