Tuesday, March 15, 2016

From the Good Friday Sermon 2016

“I wish that I could say, these things didn’t happen, but I am afraid they did.
               There’s deeper meaning here too, but for now, we simply stop and observe the very worst that humans (people like you and me), are capable of. No matter what their deeper meaning was, the nails, ripping human flesh and bone as they were pounded into the feet and hands of Jesus were real. It was all real.
               Trumped up charges, bogus trials, false accusations, betrayals, scared disciples, whips, derisions and insults, a walk of shame from the court to the dump where executions happened (carrying a cross), a crown of thorns, soldiers casting lots for what little was left, sour wine, a painful passion, a painful death and a mother as a witness to all of it.”

On Palm Sunday we remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and people welcomed him with shouts of “Hosanna!” and waiving palm branches. It was, in today’s parlance, the red carpet treatment. On Palm Sunday we do a very odd thing, we twist these branches on welcome and praise into miniature crosses. The cross was, at the time of the ministry of Jesus, a tool of torture and death. It served as a warning to an occupied people not to rebel against the power of the Roman Empire.

Yet, the cross has become for us a symbol of life and resurrection. It expresses the awesome love God has for God’s creation, for all of us. The cross has become a central image of the Christian Church. That is ironic in the truest sense, its intended use to suppress people has become a symbol of freedom. The Passion of Jesus Christ ultimately frees us from whatever diminishes our awareness of God’s presence and love (be that sin or any other thing).

You are welcome to join us on Good Friday to remember the Passion of Jesus Christ as the forces of hate only seem to win and the darkness of that Friday are proclaimed as “Good” because of the triumph of Jesus over hatred, sin and death. A triumph we celebrate on Easter Day and every time we gather in worship.

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