O victim of our violence, Son of God incarnate in the man Jesus. You lived without a home on this world that you created, having hardly anything that you could call your own. Because of your radical message of love, you were opposed by those in power, and unjustly arrested and tried. You were sentenced to death and executed by a world power that oppressed your people and silenced those who appeared to stand against. You were utterly shamed on a wooden cross, hung naked in the sight of those who spat on you and cursed you before God. Your appearance is maligned, and who you were is forgotten in the humiliation of the nails driven into your hands and feet. Your closest friends abandoned you, leaving you to die a criminal’s death, all because they were more willing to fight with a sword than to be taken silently and executed alongside you.

Who has believed our message?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

O homeless veteran on the street, you sleep where my Savior slept. Despite the fact that we praise your name and glorify your actions, we don’t give you any place to lay your head. You experienced violence that no one should, all in the name of a country that now denies your existence as you sit in front of a Wal-Mart. You hold a sign that begs for help, but we are all too afraid to approach you because of your maligned appearance and bad smell. You walk with a limp and bear the eternal scars of battle: a battle to which we sent you, but have no intention of repaying you for.

You are despised and rejected by mankind,
    A man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    You are despised, and we hold you in low esteem.
O victim of our violence, you have more in common with my God than I.

O woman who has been abused, you and my Creator have been subject to humiliation. You have been taken advantage of, and yet led to feel shame at the actions of your abuser. You have been exposed in ways which no human ever should be, but we tell you to keep your pain to yourself. We allow wicked men to reign over and cast judgement upon you as we turn a blind eye to the suffering you have endured because of them. You are shamed for speaking up and wrongly labeled according to what has been done, for we are afraid of a culture that operates according to what you seek. You scare those in power, for their character is brought to light in the words you say, so you are condemned by them and declared to be a liar.

Surely you take up our pain
    And bear our suffering,
Yet we consider you punished by God,
    Stricken by him, and afflicted.
O victim of our violence, you have more in common with my God than I.

O child who has lost her life at the hands of an AR-15, your blood is spilled like my Lord’s. Our commitment to violence has blinded us to the hope that life can be saved without use of a weapon. We live thinking that heroes with guns can save us, all the while claiming a non-violent, unjustly crucified man as our Savior. Because we live by the gun, you have helplessly died by the gun. Your life is taken by our pride, and we crucify you in the name of defending the weapons that we think can protect us. We would rather watch you die than lose our sense of security.

You have been pierced because of our transgressions,
    And crushed because of our iniquities.
O victim of our violence, you have more in common with my God than I.

O unarmed victim of police brutality, you and my Redeemer have suffered unjustly. Despite the fact that you are innocent, you have been slaughtered out of fear. The ones who killed you abuse the law, yet we defend them instead of seeking justice for your name. We spit on your existence, looking for any way to justify your death, and we deny that your experience is shared by thousands of others within our nation. Our leaders mock those who kneel for you, and your supporters are spurned by those who do not believe that such injustice exists. You die in silence, and we make every effort to make sure it stays that way.

You were oppressed and afflicted,
    Yet you did not open your mouth;
You were led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    And as a sheep before its shearers is silent.
O victim of our violence, you have more in common with my God than I.

O refugee from an oppressed homeland, you live in the world of my King. You daily see the destruction of new uprisings, and you hear bombs going off as though they are a normal part of life. Because of who you are and where you come from, you are not welcome in other lands out of fear that you might bring harm. You trudge on through the chaos of gun shots and the trauma of what you have experienced, but we refuse to accept you as a human worthy of salvation. We bomb your homeland and then deny your cry for help; we have murdered those you loved, and have left you alone to die on this hill.

Because of oppression and judgment you are taken away.
    Yet who of your generation protests?
You are cut off from the land of the living;
    For the transgression of my people you are punished.
You are assigned a grave with the wicked,
    And with the rich in your death,
Though you have done no violence,
    Nor is any deceit in your mouth.
O victim of our violence, you have more in common with my God than I.

O God of pain and suffering, I am nothing like you. I have lived protected because of the color of my skin, my biological sex, and the place I call home. I profit from the spoils of an oppressive world power who silences those who appear to stand against. There is no fear of execution if I speak up against something, and there is no thought that today may be my last day. I am privileged, and I have more in common with those who nailed you to that cross than I do with you.

Can it be that I may count myself as one of the redeemed?

Can it be that your grace extends to a member of the elite such as I?

Can it be that the blood you spilled by my hand is what I may claim as my redemption?

O victim of my violence, how do I follow you?