The Day of Preparation for Passover, late 20s AD
A Jewish man from the “other side of the tracks” town of Nazareth is beaten, paraded out of town, and lifted up on a crucifix to die between two dangerous men. Unable to control him, the ruling elite of Jerusalem executed him as what they knew him to be: a threat to their religious, economic, and political power. Every swing of the hammer was another punctuation mark on their demands that the history books would say their name and not His.
March 25, 1540.
Hernando de Soto and his men march to present-day North Carolina in hopes of finding a rumored Native American civilization to exploit. De Soto’s conquest of the Incas had only served to enhance his desire for the riches to be found in the New World. After crossing the Ocmulgee River in Georgia, the army finds a small village on an island and quickly puts it to the sword. Apparently genocide works up the appetite, so they stopped for lunch before pressing on. Among the ruin and death the Spanish found a barbacoa, a wooden platform used for slowly cooking over a smoky wood fire, laden with hens and venison. The Spanish ate their way into history at the first recorded barbecue in the Deep South.
March 25, 2016
The two leading candidates for president of the United States both hold unfavorability ratings over fifty percent. Candidates claim to be the best choice for Christians despite laundry lists of ethical questions. Even Holy Week isn’t safe, as the final days of the culmination of the Christian calendar are filled with fights between the top two GOP campaigns over whose wife is sleazy and whose wife is attractive. The man to “save Christianity” indeed.
Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s the time off school, but all these stories are swirling together in my mind. Across the millennia I see powers with swords and crosses and microphones rushing, always rushing to fill their bottomless darkness with more wealth, more titles, more power. Those that don’t fall in line do so at their own peril. Good and beautiful things feel the roughness of murderous hands.
But they don’t get the final say. Jesus couldn’t be controlled, he couldn’t be bought, so he
had to be killed. But Sunday is coming. The first recorded barbecue in my beloved Deep South is only recorded because it was stolen from the dead hands of slaughtered Native Americans. But countless throngs, myself included, find freedom, joy, and a way to provide Christlike hospitality around the slow fire of a barbecue. They couldn’t keep Jesus in the ground, so they neuter His teachings into a warm marshmallow puff of spirituality that would never dare disturb their political machinations and their greed. We are taught to let the world burn while we throw our souls into false salvation found in campaign promises and Fox News hysterics. Paul calls the authentic message “solid food”. Like good barbecue it takes time. A long time. It is unmistakable. It summons the neighbors. It sits heavy in your gut and lingers in the air.The powers would have us instead run to them to lap up empty calories. But the scandal of Good Friday is real, the dark stillness of Holy Saturday is real, and the rich, rebellious joy of Sunday is real. Have the barbecue instead.