READ : Isaiah 53
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted . . . like a lamb that is led to the slaughter . . . (v. 7)
The Muslim feast of Eid el-Adha commemorates the ram that God gave Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son. A part of the preparation for Eid el-Adha is the slaughter of lambs. Outside our East Jerusalem apartment is a pen of sheep. Sally and I stand outside our door, early in the morning, waiting for a bus to take us to work. Sheep are being dragged out of the pen and pulled into a small, cement block building. The sheep dig in with all four hooves. They scream, a quiet shrill cry. Blood flows out of the building and runs into the street, right past our feet as we stand on the steps. Our landlord has positioned himself in the street in front of our building. He is armed with a water hose, and he directs the blood down into a street drain.
Around the pen is a small crowd of men and boys—watching, pointing, laughing, talking. The sheep were strangely quiet, not bleating as you might think—waiting to be selected, then the struggle.
Sally and I watch. We listen. We breathe in all the smells. And we think on the Lamb of God.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy. Alleluia.