Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Sermon

One of the great challenges of life is figuring out our relationship with our Creator. Lots of people have said lots of things and this one idea seems to emerge in nearly every context – God wills to be found. It is God’s desire that we come to know our Creator; that the ever-present God be fully known to us, at all times.

God’s very self is revealed in the act of creation. From that moment, all those billions of years ago, within that nanosecond between there being nothing and then something – at that moment, it was the Creator’s will that you and I, in this moment, will know God and will know God manifestly in our lives.

God’s very act of creating was an act of love, a desire of God to love and be loved. And in the space between people, God continues to be that loving presence. In every corner of the globe, God desires to be known.

God, our Creator, is known by many different names. What’s in a name? What’s in a name so holy, people thought better of even saying it out loud (God, Creator, No Thing, Ground of all Being, The One). It is this God who calls us to justice, humility and mercy; it is this God who defines love as justice, humility and mercy.

Our hearts and minds however, are clouded by self-interest and all that comes with it – fear, doubt, anger, jealousy, hatred, and conceit. So our Creator put it into the hearts of men and women to think and pray, to write down what they understood to be God’s will. One history of this relationship is known as the Holy Bible. It is an amazing and live-giving documentation of what we collectively came to know as God’s revelation.

That wasn’t enough for the cold hearted human. Perhaps being present in every bit of creation wasn’t enough, or in the space between us, or in the revealed Word of God. More would be needed – a human face – an incarnation – God’s son. A human being, a son of human beings, who could show God’s will with his actions, with his teachings, with his passion.

It is this Jesus, a human child from Nazareth, a carpenters’ son, who showed us that what matters to God is not religious rules, or human honour, or wealth or fame, but love, peace, mercy, justice, forgiveness, humility and joy. God is not caught up in the human soap opera, but calls us to something different; and not just something different, but something profoundly basic to our creation, to our nature as human beings – a desire to love and be loved. That’s what matters.

This Jesus of Nazareth is the one who carried this message, this Word of God. It is this Jesus of Nazareth that cold human hearts chose to kill.

It is a recent phenomenon that people believe the Holy Scriptures to be literally true. A hundred years ago the idea that every word of scripture is literally true would have been laugh at by even the most fundamentalist of scholars. A literal understanding of scripture is a new and frustrating development in the ongoing human need to know the Divine.

Obviously, some things in the Bible literally happened, but certainly not all things. Everything in the Bible becomes infinitely more life-giving, soul-building when we come to glimpse the metaphorical or deeper meaning that it contains and conveys. That is where the Divine is revealed, not in the literal, but in the deeper meaning of each and every story in the Bible.

That say – there are some things that are literally true, for example, the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

It was all real. It was painful for Jesus. It was painful for God. It was painful for the men and woman who followed Jesus. It is painful for us to hear about it today. It’s difficult to make sense of it. But, remembering that God the Creator is revealed in every bit of creation, in the space between us, in the words of the Bible, in his Son, God’s very act of creating is an act of love, a desire of God to love and be loved, a desire of God to fulfill the desire of every human being to love and be loved.

Mother Teresa said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” Today we hunger for love, today God’s love is revealed to us in the very real, the very literal Passion of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

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