Latent Emissions, Chakaia Booker
Jesus is stripped of his garments
From the Gospel according to John (19-23)
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.
Let’s focus on the title of this station—Jesus is stripped of his garments. After all the pain he has physically endured; after all the betrayal and humiliation he has emotionally endured, there is yet more. Jesus is forced first, to stand; then to hang, with nothing between him and his persecutors. He has nothing to cover him, protect him, shield him, nor hide behind. He is completely vulnerable.
In our present situation with the pandemic, we may feel vulnerable as we are forced to live stripped-down lives. We may feel like we want to hide in order to protect ourselves or to shield our loved ones. When we journey out from our homes, we may feel vulnerable to the potential danger in the world around us. We might hesitate to interact or connect with other people unless we have a buffer of some kind to shield us.
Like Jesus, this is the state of affairs in which we have been thrust. We would not choose it. We do not like it. We have no certainty of how it will work out or what will come on the other side.
The good news is that we are not alone in this. Jesus willingly suffered vulnerability and unknowing. He walks alongside us now, daily, in our vulnerability and unknowing, just as we walk alongside him when we pray the stations of the cross. May his faith and hope in the face of vulnerability and suffering reinforce our own.
– Stacey Noem, MDiv, Director of Human & Spiritual Formation
The word that comes to mind is vulnerability as I gaze at Jesus’s empty and open hand— unresisting and accepting as He is forcefully stripped of His garments.
I am thinking of all the ways in which we cover and protect ourselves from being truly seen.
The “garments” that serve as barriers between our authentic selves and the world can include the material things we cling to, the people and relationships we attach ourselves to, the identity we construct for ourselves through the many things we do . . .
A great discomfort arrives in being stripped of these things—rendered naked, vulnerable and seen—stripped of the ways we define ourselves and the ways we hide our weaknesses or brokenness.
But Jesus’s outstretched, empty, open hand comes as an invitation and a challenge.
During these times, we may find ourselves in close quarters with others without the time or space to hide our vulnerabilities as we might usually do. We may find our days stripped of the work and activities that construct our sense of worthiness and of self.
In this new rhythm of life, which might have been imposed upon us similarly to how Jesus was forcefully stripped of His garments, we can be invited to openly offer up our vulnerabilities, letting ourselves be seen authentically, which leads us into authentic relationships.
We can also be challenged to draw closer to those stripped of dignity, who have no privilege of hiding their deep vulnerabilities in ways we might be able to do, whose vulnerabilities reveal the injustices in our world.
Jesus’s emptying of Himself calls us to recognize those stripped of safety, comfort, health resources, economic stability, and home during this disorienting time, to recognize Christ in them, and to recognize our common call to protect the vulnerable in our midst and practice authentic vulnerability ourselves.
While we look to Jesus’s posture of love and offering of self during the Passion to guide how we might live our own lives, we also identify the deep injustice of His Crucifixion, holding it in our hearts at the same time.
– Rachel Mills ’20