Good Friday – 2010

Passion according to John 18 & 19

I have always felt that one preaches on Good Friday with great care. It is a hard day to speak words. It is more of a day for listening, for thought, prayer, meditation, and reflection. It is hard to preach this day because so much piety is attached to just what exactly is happening on the cross.

For some the event of Jesus’ death is an intensely personal experience. It speaks to failures and short-comings and God’s ultimate act of forgiveness for our individual sin. For some Jesus’ death on the cross signals a judgment upon the world. It was the world that turned on Jesus unable to tolerate and deal with the intensely intimate encounter of God’s love embodied in Jesus. And Jesus’ death signals the end of the ways of the world – that the world will lose to the path of love and forgiveness. And for some Jesus’ death on the cross means the need to separate out from the world, to disengage and ignore the needs of the world.

It seems to me that the cross declares two primary messages. The first is that the world is a hostile place to those who would seek to live in love and who point out where love is lacking. The second is that God cares and loves the world, including you and me, no matter how unfriendly it is, no matter how much sin there is.

This love is limitless, but not forcefully so. It is more like water than rock, flowing through, over, around, and under us and all things. It does not stop Jesus’ death. It does not end pain or suffering. It does not take away the hardships of life or protect us from our own devices. If we jump off a cliff we will hit the bottom. Yet this river of love does not know boundary. Death is not its end. Sin is not its end. Hatred or indifference is not its end. It flows in the lives of friend and enemy alike. It is eternal.

It is also often hidden. We don’t see it or hear it in the Passion story – except for a glimpse in the words of forgiveness from the cross. We don’t see it or hear it in our own lives, except in the embrace of a friend, the listening of a spouse, or the counsel of a teacher. We might feel the Goosebumps on our arms, the thrill of our hearts, a moment of joy and laughter when sorrow envelops us. Such moments are often hard won however. And others may not see or experience God’s love except for those moments when we lend the listening ear, send the note card, make the phone call, or offer the meal or a hug.

But the strange message from the story of Jesus’ death is that this love will be enough. It will be enough for life, everlasting life. It will be enough for joy. It will be enough for all things good. It is all God desires. No matter the outcome in life, no matter successes or failures, the cross’ declaration is that we too are to love one another. The church may grow or die. Nations may rise or fall. My life may go smoothly or with great turmoil. I may never know pain or only know pain. But the call to us from the cross remains the same – love.

From here on out – from this cross to the empty tomb on Sunday – it is all about faith. Do we trust enough to believe that it is really about love? Are we willing to let everything else go? Amen.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 at 4:21 pm and is filed under Sermons. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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