Friday, April 18, 2014

"An Intentional Good Friday" A Sermon

Year A, Good Friday, 2014
“An Intentional Good Friday”
St. Thomas Episcopal, Richmond

We are a rushed and hurried people.  We race from one place to another, grabbing fast food on our way, devouring our calories in our hurry, so we can get to the gym to work them off.  God help our pace.  God help our lives.

There are many times to hurry.  When we feel unsafe or threatened.  When we need to lend aid.  When we need to get away from a trigger for us.

I think that is why we feel the need to not let our minds dwell on this day, this day of utter nonsense to the world.  Maybe we do not want to deal with it ourselves?  Maybe it is utter nonsense to us.

In the fictional work, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, the title character Pi Patel is introduced to Christianity.  His family is on vacation.  Pi visits a church in his adolescent wanderings, and sees a crucifix.  There he meets a kind priest. When Father Martin explains the death of Jesus to Pi, he has the expected reaction.

What a downright weird story.  What a peculiar psychology.I asked for another story, one that I might find more satisfying.  Surely this religion had more than one story in its bag--religions abound with stories.  But Father Martin made me understand that the stories that came before it--and there were many--were simply prologue to the Christians.  Their religion had one Story [Capitol S], and to it they came back again and again, over and over.  It was story enough for them. (p. 53)

And later while contemplating this he comes up with some serious questions.

...But Divinity should not be blighted by death.  It’s wrong.  The world soul cannot die, even in one contained part of it.  It was wrong of this Christian God to let His avatar die.  That is tantamount to letting a part of himself die.  For if the Son is to die, it cannot be fake.  If God on the Cross is God shamming human a human tragedy, it turns the Passion of Christ into the Farce of Christ.  The death of the Son must be real.  Father Martin assured me that it was.  But once a dead God, always a dead God, even resurrected.  The Son must have the taste of death forever in his mouth.  The Trinity must be tainted by it; there must be a certain stench at the right hand of God the Father.  The horror must be real.  Why should God wish that upon Himself?  Why not leave death to the mortals?  Why make dirty what is beautiful, spoil what is perfect?  Love.  That was Father Martin’s answer. (p.54)

Lent is forty days for a reason.  A season of reflection and contemplation.  It officially ended last night, to prepare for Today, a day we call Good despite the overwhelming evidence against that idea, expect for one simple thing.  Father Martin’s answer, Love.  
When I survey the wondrous Crosswhere the young Prince of Glory died,my richest gain I count but loss,and our contempt on all my pride. 
See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrows and love flowed mingled down!  Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Do not rush this day.  Pause.  

The price was too dear for us not to linger.  Wait.  

The cost too high for us not to slow down.  Stop.  

Every precious drop of the Innocent’s blood crying out, not for vengeance, but for forgiveness.  “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” he said.

Forgive us, dear Jesus, for we want to look away.  Forgive us, loving Christ, for we want to make it all go away.  Help us, sweet Lord, to slow down, and stand in awe of what you have done for us.  For me.  Thank you.  Amen.

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Blessings, Rock