Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Sermon

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 22
Heb. 10:16-25
John 18:1-19:42

A World Shaken: Sun Dark, Moon Turned to Blood

Why are we here? Why do we do this year after year? Why are you here tonight? I ask because what these three days celebrate and remember may be the most difficult thing to take in and truly accept. We can make sense of a great deal of Jesus' teaching: Love your neighbor as yourself, Love your enemy perhaps a bit more difficult, but perhaps understandable if one is seeking peace and justice. It may also be difficult to forgive but we can see the importance. Medical science of our day is recognizing the importance for our health of such things as forgiveness, of prayer and meditation. This may make it seem obvious to see that there is life in Jesus' teaching. But what we face and celebrate tonight, the cross, the crucifixion, Jesus suffering torture and a painful death as the center of our faith, and the source of the very life of the entire world, is incredible. Do we believe it? Do we truly believe that this was no accident, no mistake but the very center of Jesus' life and teaching, the very reason Jesus came. The cross makes Jesus' teaching and the incarnation a very difficult thing to make into a generalized principle of life, and Christian faith into a nice thing you do for good health. Here at the cross on Good Friday we may very well want to flee, like the disciples did, or deny that this has much importance. We may feel " Lets get on to new life and resurrection." And yet if we do this then the resurrection becomes a principle or an ideal. Yet without the cross and crucifixion of Jesus talk of the resurrection is just a wish and fantasy. Just as the cross is a tragedy, and Jesus a tragic failed figure, at best a legendary teacher, without the actual Resurrection.

I call us to remember that we are here that we take this time to celebrate the liturgy of the three days because the cross and crucifixion makes everything possible and makes all things new! Here at the cross all divisions cease, all animosity dies, all sin is forgiven, all oppression and injustice judged and reversed. Here all things are restored, all is made righteous. Here at the cross is the solution to all human struggle, to all animosity and hatred. Here God proclaims God's justice, and shows how it is other than our human conceptions of justice and righteousness. The prophet tells us that the suffering servant we now understand to be Jesus underwent the sufferings for others and for the sin and unrighteousness of others. the author of Hebrews reminds us that what this effects for us is the ability to enter the presence and rule of God, to boldly live again in God's presence! Because of Jesus' death on the cross it is possible for us to live with God as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden before the fall.

Yet there is something more: here at the Cross we see into the mind of Christ. We find that what we hope for does not come from a position of worldly power but worldly weakness. We discover that justice is ultimately a mater of relationship and unity. Thus injustice and unrighteousness show the lack of these things, or the attempt to enforce them through coercion. At the foot of the cross we see that God prefers free loving relationship rather than coerced obedience. In Christ we find that Love, the only love that deserves such a name, is the willingness to lay down everything to restore relationship and communion. To accomplish restored communion Love will not coerce but for the other suffers the consequences of the break down in communion; even allowing the continued the rejection by the other, in order to bring about a return and restoration of communion and Love.

At the cross our world is shaken, and turned around and upside down. What happened on Good Friday is too large to take in all at once, there is no principle to derive from it. Good Friday must be entered into and experienced, it must be received. It is difficult to take in this Love that requires everything, even ones life freely given without reserve or hesitation. Can we ever fully enter into such a reality? Only one has fully entered and lived in this love, Christ the crucified one. We are at best poor imitators of this love. So we come and worship at the cross of Christ so that we may be formed by this mind that was in Christ Jesus. We come here year after year again and again because what we encounter here at the cross is greater than we are, greater than our imagination, greater than our knowledge, greater than our ideals and hopes. So we honor the Cross by which God in Christ transforms us and the whole world through the power of God which is weakness in the eyes that see only with human vision and confounds the minds that only know human wisdom. We honor what we recognize is our only hope for the coming of true justice into the world and its transformation in patient love. So come and worship the crucified one and adore the life giving Cross, which has revealed the confounding world shaking Love of God.Amen.