I am sitting in my office preparing for our Good Friday service which will begin in less than an hour. I was rereading a quote from Will Willimon that I am using in tonight’s message. It is from his new book Sinning Like a Christian and it helps give me a proper perspective on tonight’s focus–the cross of Christ. Will writes,
Once there was One who came to us, who touched the untouchables, turned his back upon the worlds bright baubles, loved even unto death, and never turned his eyes away from God. And we hated him for it. He came to us with wide-open hands in gracious invitation, seeking us, both patient with us and hotly pursuing us. And thereby he brought out the very worst in us.
We figured that things between us and God were not all that bad, but when he spoke to us of God, and ourselves, and rubbed our noses in the filthy rags of our presumed righteousness, well, we thought we were good until we met him.
He called upon us to attempt great moral feats, then watched as we fell flat on our faces. He invited us to join up with this Kingdom, then set that Kingdom’s demands so high that when it came time for us to stand up and show what we were made of, we fled, slithering into the darkness. He said, “Come to me. Take on my yoke.” And we with one voice cried, “Crucify him!
I left my house this evening alone. I drove to the church alone. There were a few people at the church when I got here, but the building was virtually empty. And now I sit in my office…alone. I guess I feel a little bummed, but then again maybe this is how I should feel tonight. Maybe this should be our tune for the night. I have been meditating on the fact that you cannot experience the joy of the resurrection without going through the sorrow of the cross. This is why the Church for centuries has been celebrating (mourning) Good Friday. It is good, but in a sorrowful way. I am feeling that tonight. I lack the words to adaquately describe how humbled I am by the death of Christ. Such love. Such sacrifice. Such strength. We will end the service tonight with communion and with the simple song:
O the blood of Jesus,
O the blood of Jesus,
O the blood of Jesus
–it washes white as snow.
Jesus may you be glorified tonight for your sacrifice, because while sorrow last for the night, joy comes in the morning.