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The Cross and The Needle: Deep in the Heart of Texas

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NBC News

Numerous officials hurried into a back room.  The meeting was called to order by the top official.  The conversation began with the official clearing his throat and declaring, “The press is getting bad out there.  Stand your ground and do not release any details about what is going to happen.  This process must remain secret.”  The officials left the room with no comment for the press.

 

The murmurs of execution were a long time in the making.  Then the day came.  The tools of execution were brought in and the executioners went to work.  In the final moments…the prisoner cried out to God in agony and no one listened.  Most thought they were doing the right thing and strangely everyone felt worse when it was over.  There was no freedom…only death.

 

Whose execution was this?  Was this an execution by cross or needle?

 

The gospels are full of secret murmurings and conversations about the desire to execute Jesus.  Officials in the State of Texas have been secretly murmuring and conversing about how to keep the execution process of Robert James Campbell secret for some time.  Jesus cried out in agony on the cross.  The needle that Texas will use to execute Campbell will be agonizingly full of an experimental dose of pentobarbital.  Will Campbell cry out like Oklahoman Michael Lee Wilson did at his execution last January 9, “I feel my whole body burning”?  Or will Campbell experience the botched execution of Clayton Lockett and experience tremendous pain on the way to a poorly executed death?  Jesus suffered tremendously on the cross…and I think there is little question that so too will Campbell.  If Robert James Campbell is executed…there will be those who say God allows execution and perhaps even blesses them.  People said the same thing about the execution of Jesus.  Most participants will think they are doing the right thing…yet after the execution there will be questions in their hearts.  The same was true at the execution of Jesus.

 

When we talk about these executions whom exactly are we talking about?

 

The words of Jesus help us to answer such a question, “I was in prison and you visited me.”  The words of Matthew 25 do not reveal guilt or innocence…just incarnational presence.  If Robert James Campbell is not successful in his appeal based on the secrecy of the State of Texas’ execution process, I have no doubt that Jesus will be up on the gurney with him.  I also have no doubt that Jesus will experience the needle going in and whatever agony comes next.  Jesus will be in that chamber and Jesus will be executed…just like Jesus died with victim Alejandra Rendon…because this is what an incarnated God does.

 

Is there need for more killing?  Is there need for more blood?  Shall the cycle of execution continue raging from the streets of our cities all the way to Huntsville and back again?

 

Will we be the ones deep in the heart of Texas shouting crucify him or will we be the ones who try to save his life?

 

I call on President Barack Obama, Governor Rick Perry, the Courts, prison officials and anyone else in authority with courage to not wash your hands of another execution.

 

Put down the cross.  Put down the needle.

 

Amen.

 

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