Fourth-grade child on the cross,
you did not choose this.
There is nothing in you
nor your family, friends, or schoolmates
that deserved this.
All forever changed without consent.
Where was Christ to wipe your tears
and who was there to honor
all the sacred blood that left your side?
Fourth-grade child, crucified
because the Romans shouted “freedom”
and would not give up their guns.
Because lobbyists lobbied
and senators are spineless
and lines are drawn unjustly
and our addiction to violence
You deserved to live
among a people who cared.
You deserved a long life
among a people who are for life.
And now you deserve the birthing of a world
where this will never happen again.
Even so, you’re gone forever.
It would not be enough.
It would be something.
the grief of those who love you
is real and raw
and right and angry.
You were unprotected by
the ones who pledged to keep you safe.
We failed you.
No excuses remain.
Nothing to be said
and nothing left to do
but bear witness and not turn away.
To grieve and scream.
Refuse to forget and move on.
Fourth-grade child, innocent,
I need you to know—
I need us to show you tangibly—
your life was worth more than all the money in the world
and all the power thrown around
by those who lead
but do not love us.
Liz Cooledge Jenkins is a writer, preacher, chaplain, and former college campus minister who lives in Burien, WA. She has a BS in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary. She regularly posts justice-minded biblical reflections, poems, “super chill book reviews,” and more at lizcooledgejenkins.com; she can also be found on FB (Liz Cooledge Jenkins, Writer) and Instagram (@lizcoolj). Her sermon on Ruth and Boaz was included in Sojourners’ collection of immigration sermons, El Camino.