April 14 Good Friday sermon Being Lutheran on Good Friday can be lonely

Good Friday April 14, 2017

John 18:1–19:42

Bethesda cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even as we live each day,

Death our life embraces.

Who is there to bring us help,

Rich, forgiving graces?

You only, Lord, you only!

Baptized in Christ’s life-giving flood:

Water and his precious blood—

Holy and righteous God,

Holy and mighty God,

Holy and all merciful Savior,

Everlasting God,

By grace bring us safely

Through the flood of bitter death.

Lord, have mercy.

–Martin Luther

 

In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Being Lutheran amid other Protestants can be lonely.  Luther and his ilk loved the cross.  The Theology of the Cross is a particular hallmark of the Lutheran tradition, so that the backdrop of the cross is like the clothes Lutherans wear when we talk about God, write, pray, eat, read, go about our business, etc…

 

In Christ’s death we see life.  On the cross Christ is in his glory.  Into the darkness, God’s light shines. 

 

We don’t skip over Good Friday to Easter.  We find the cross as a Tree of Life.

 

Lutherans wear paradoxes proudly.  We hold things in tension that are seemingly incongruent, but true.

 

We are simultaneously saint and sinner.

 

Jesus is both human and divine.

 

We trust God’s salvation in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

For all my childhood years, I had the tackiest cross you could ever imagine on my bureau.  It was white plastic, at the most about two inches high, with these words embedded on the crossbeam: Jesus saves.  When there was plenty of sun throughout the day drenching my bedroom, or if you held that cross close to a bulb for a manner of minutes, and then shut the light, in the dark that cross would glow.

 

I would close my eyes with the cross as the only object I could see, my very own talisman warding off sin, death, and the devil.  I was a weird kid.

 

But, tonight, I’m with you weirdos clothed in the cross, the thing upon which Jesus was killed, and allowing it to root our faith, and break open new life in God.  And we are drawn to the Passion.

 

The Passion of John includes so many things going wrong for Jesus.  Betrayal in a garden by one of his friends.  So many police, so many weapons, lanterns, and torches for this one country hick from Galilee. 

 

The weight of power is wielded in great numbers.  Those against Jesus pile up, while his comrades fade away.  His interrogators haven’t a clue what they are talking about, but the verdict is guilty, and the punishment is death.

 

Somehow, by God, Jesus turns his death into a victory.  Somehow, as he hung between heaven and earth, out of his dying it’s like we are reborn, at great cost.

 

How many unjust deaths will it take to turn the world around?

 

Christians in Egypt bombed on Palm Sunday.

 

Children used as pawn in chemical warfare in Syria.

 

Famine and civil war proving a double whammy in South Sudan.

 

And a mega bomb from United States’ military clobbering Afghanistan.

 

And so much standing in the way of promise for so many who despair of government, safety nets, and basic necessities.

 

Was Jesus’ death for nothing?  Or is it the way of life and peace? 

 

Didn’t he join his beloved disciple with his mother so that the future would be bright?

 

Didn’t he give up his spirit so that the world might sprout into beauty and justice?

 

Jesus died once, for all.  Jesus spread his arms on the tree to love the world into forgiveness and new life.

 

Here, in our cruciformed selves, we are to put to death foolish notions that we are in control. We are to remind ourselves and anyone that will listen that our lives and our world are in God’s hands, not anyone else’s.

 

Here, as we sit, kneel, or walk by the cross, we rely on God’s strength in weakness, God mercy for the broken-hearted, and new life out of death.

 

It is finished.  It is enough.

 

Good Friday. 

 

In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

[During sermon, people were recruited to lay crosses at the altar area each time they heard these key phrases:

 

  1. Tree of Life—Tree of Life
  2. Plastic cross—tackiest cross
  3. Olivewood cross– drawn to the Passion.
  4. Gold crucifix– out of his dying it’s like we are reborn, at great cost.
  5. Celtic cross– How many unjust deaths
  6. Metal crucifix– Christians in Egypt bombed on Palm Sunday.
  7. Jerusalem cross– Children used as pawns in chemical warfare in Syria.
  8. Francis’ cross– Famine and civil war proving a double whammy in South Sudan.
  9. Weston Priory cross– And a mega bomb from United States’ military clobbering Afghanistan.
  10. Marble cross– Here, in our cruciformed selves, we are to put to death foolish notions that we are in control. ]

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.