Tag Archives: crucified one

Good Friday, Pandemic and the Cross

GOSPEL: John 18:1–19:42

The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John. (read the passion gospel)

Sermon

The shadow of cross is dark and wide today. 

The presence of death feels closer than ever. 

The cross that is so often depicted standing behind mangers and stables at Advent,

stands tall above beds for the dying rather than for infants

and different makeshift shelters today. 

The cross is spoken of with words that we didn’t even know a few weeks or months ago. 

Novel Coronavirus, Covid-19. 

The cross is revealed with words that we really didn’t understand, and still have yet to grasp. 

Pandemic. 

The cross looms high and mighty over hospitals and temporary field units. 

The cross’s darkness has forced the world forced to stay home. 

The cross disrupts the work of governments, schools, businesses, public services and more. 

The cross demands the sacrifice of those who serve on front lines to risk health and safety.  

The cross is changing the world with numbers. Number that grow arbitrarily, numbers that terrify, numbers that signify entire lives ending while still in the middle of living, families unable to grieve, communities forced to adapt their care and support from afar.

The cross has arrived in a way that it hasn’t arrived in a long time, in a way that few alive today understand or comprehend. 

And Jesus has been nailed to it, left to struggle for breath, left to suffocate unable to bring air into his lungs out of exhaustion. 

Jesus has been nailed to it, unjustly, cruelly and for the gain of those in power, so that human greed and contempt can keep its grip on Godlike power. 

Jesus has been nailed to it at young age, as someone who shouldn’t receive a death sentence, as someone who simply got mixed up in political games beyond his control. 

Jesus has been nailed to the cross today, and it feels like just one more to add to the list of deaths, the list that we know has only begun being written. 

The shadow of the cross is indeed dark and wide. 

But it is not just pandemic and illness that makes the cross seem taller. 

The cross is still our moment of shame, our moment of attempted power, our moment of trying to put ourselves before God. 

The cross is still our human effort to put God to death, even as God keeps coming to us in life. 

We want power, we want security, we want safety. We want to control our world, especially as it spins out of control beyond us. 

We deny the danger, we forget to care for others, we put ourselves first, we try to use the power of death for our own gain. 

Even still the cross has existed in God’s heart since the beginning of creation.  

Even still Jesus goes to the cross knowing that it is God’s beloved creation putting him there. 

Even still God is willing to die because we demand it, because our sin and pride demand it, because our selfishness demands it. 

Yet today is the cross’s final day of power. 

And yet, the cross will become more than our death symbol looming large. 

And yet, the cross is God’s means to change our course and set creation on a new path. 

What has been there since the beginning, Christ bring to its end. 

Today Christ completes the journey towards creation. 

Today Christ completes the journey towards us.

Today Christ joins creation and creator together in fullness, 

undoing the damage of the fall, 

undoing the separation endured since, 

reconciling what was broken between us. 

What has always been the end, Christ now begins as something new. 

Today, Jesus goes where none of us can go and does what none but God can do.  

Jesus goes to all the places where cross is found. 

Jesus goes the hospitals and field units. 

Jesus goes to empty streets and quiet neighbourhoods. 

Jesus goes to the front lines at testings centres, and grocery stores, and public health offices, and nursing home windows, and emergency rooms and intensive care units.

Jesus goes to lonely quarantined people.

Jesus goes to temporary isolation housing for health workers. 

Jesus goes to stressed out, cooped up families. 

Jesus goes to hungry seniors waiting for food drop offs

Jesus goes to worried and anxious people whose hearts can find little peace.

Jesus goes to the grieving and the separated and the brokenhearted. 

Jesus goes to every place where the cross looms large.

Jesus goes to every corner touched by the shadow of the cross.

Jesus goes to death itself. 

And on the cross Jesus will take on our darkness,

take on our shadows and sin,

take on our suffering and trials and tribulations

take on our our illness and disease.

Jesus will take our death and make it God’s. 

And then Jesus will take us and make us God’s own. 

And Jesus will make the ending the beginning.

And Jesus will shake off our power of sin, our power of death, our power of the cross. 

And Jesus will start a new thing. 

A new thing on the cross, a new thing where we thought there was only death. 

Today in the dark and wide shadow, 

Today as the cross seems to stand above hospital beds and quarantine rooms.

Today when we use new words and forgotten words to describe death. 

Today Christ does a new thing.

Christ hangs on the cross, without breath in his lungs, with pandemic in the air

And prepares the world 

For New Life 

Amen.

The Crucified God is God – and we are not

Gospel: John 18:1—19:42

Seven weeks ago, we gathered on another mountain – the mount of Transfiguration.

On that mountain top, Jesus was flanked by Moses and Elijah, and his disciples gathered at his feet.

From there we descended into the valley of Lent.

Into the wilderness, just as the Israelites were sent into wilderness to be found by God.

The wilderness was not the place of danger we imagine, but the place of renewal.

Rather the danger was found in the return from wilderness, in the journey towards human chaos.

It was on streets of Jerusalem where Jesus found the centre of chaos and struggle.

It is on our our streets and in our communities where Jesus meets human messiness.

And along the journey from down the mountain through the wilderness and chaos of Lent, Jesus kept coming back to God’s people, kept coming back to us.

He came and answered our big questions about life and suffering.

He showed us the prodigal Father, who sought out his lost sons.

He let himself be anointed with perfume like a body being prepared for burial.

And then Jesus rode up into Jerusalem again.

On a donkey, with a crowd waving palms, chanting Hosanna, save now…

filled with expectation that he was their new king,

come to take away their problems with power and might.

But by the end of the week, the crowds had turned.

As Jesus gathered at the family table with his disciples last night, he knew what was coming.

There would be no more rest, no more sleep, no more calm.

There would be betrayal and denial.

There would be sham trials and wrongful convictions.

There would be police brutality followed by summary execution.

And through night into today, the humanity that was so oblivious to him this whole time,

Who clamoured for him to perform like a side show,

to feed the bored and hungry, to satiate the crowds….

Today this humanity has woken up…

This humanity has become aware of just who Jesus is.

The baby born in a manger to peasant parents,

promised by angels, visited by shepherd, worshipped by Magi…

this baby who is God come in flesh, word incarnate.

This baby is now this man.

This man who is God.

This man who is God, which means we are not.

This man who is God, who threatens our claims to power.

This man who is God, who makes us feel small.

Jesus has come to centre, to the core of humanity. To our messy and chaotic existence and reminded us our limitedness, of our ungodliness, of our fallibility and imperfections.

And that just wont do for us.

And so we go back up the mountain to send the God-Man away.

We march up Golgaltha with murderous rage.

And we haul a cross along with us.

We who are the best humanity has to offer.

Religious leaders, political leaders, the educated and prominent.

We pick up the nails too, and desire to be rid of this One.

This One who is God in flesh and who brings God close.

This One who announces the Kingdom coming near.

This One who talks about grace and mercy at inconvenient times.

This One, the Christ, the anointed of God, sent to save…

We will put to death and be done with him.

And then we can go back to being in control.

Back to being in charge.

Back to being God.

Except this mountain was always where Jesus was going.

From the beginning of creation, from the moment God spoke us into being.

From the dirt and clay that formed the Adam, the first born of creation.

There was also a cross.

The cross was always the place where God’s Word in flesh would meet us.

Always the place where the Christ would confront our most God-like power.

The cross was always the place where the God of creation would meet the God we tried to create of ourselves.

The cross was always the place where God was going to bridge the gap to human chaos and messiness…

Where God would rejoin what was split apart in the fall.

Where God would reconcile creator with created, humanity and divinity.

Where God would remember and remind us that we were created in God’s image, in Christ’s image.

Here on this mountain, the skull, the place of humanity’s power of death,

God declares that we are not God once and for all.

And that sin and death are no longer in control.

God declares a new reality by reminding us of the first reality.

God declares that God is God

And God declares that we are God’s creation.

That we belong to the crucified one.

That our chaos and messiness,

Our human failings and fragility

Our questions and vulnerability

Our discomfort and overwhelming feelings

That all of us, including sin and earth

Belongs now to the one who hangs on the cross.

The one in whom all creation began

And whom creation put to death.

That we belong to this One, this Word, this Christ, this Jesus.

That we belong to this One who loves beyond all love.

That we belong to this Word of Life.

That we belong to this Christ who saves

That we belong to Jesus who makes us one.

Who gathers us into God.

Into God, who even though dead on a cross…

Who is life beyond all life.

Who is freely given love and salvation

Who is mercy and forgiveness for us.

This God, who even though dead on a cross…

Has come again to the mountain top

and finally shown us once and for

That we are now a new creation

That there is now

New Life in the crucified Christ.