Friday, April 3, 2015

A Day of Mystery

This is a very different Good Friday for me because I get to experience Good Friday.

Usually I am also working on an Easter sermon and am half here and half there.  But today, I sit with the texts and do not move ahead.  Last night I attended a Tenebrae service at a church downtown that was transcendent for me.  It was basically the scriptures read, music sung and listened to and the candles being extinguished.  At the end we sat in darkness and listened to a bell ring 39 times to represent the 39 lashes of Jesus. The last act of the service was the pastor bringing back the light and putting it on the altar and then we left in silence.

Today I have read through all the scriptures  - Isaiah 52: 13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10: 16-25, 5: 7-9; John 18: 1-19:42.

And I just sit in it all - the mystery of the cross, the mystery of evil, the mystery of suffering,  the mystery of love,  and most of all the mystery of God.

As I wrote yesterday, I am very aware of the reality of evil in our world today.  That is the reality of life in this world always - right from the beginning.  But today reminds me that the way of God is always going to be a way of life and hope.  It does not mean the end to suffering - but it does mean the end of despair.  We have a savior who has walked through the valley of the shadow of death and returned to show us the power of God.  And because of Jesus the writer of Hebrews writes:

"Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need."

I have always found the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate to be fascinating.

Jesus: My Kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."
Pilate: "So you are a king?"
Jesus: "You say that I am a king.  For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
Pilate: "What is truth?"

And so on Good Friday - what is truth?  It is a way of love.  It is a way that puts love ahead of everything else - including religious traditions. It is a love that is embodied in Jesus and is always more than we can describe with words.  

And so I hope for a day that includes a lot of  silence as I listen for his voice.

A Prayer by Maxine Shonk

May you be blessed when you are forced in the darkness of the unknown
when answers elude you 
and you are paralyzed by anticipation or fear.
At those times may you hear yourself being called into the mystery of God.
May you entrust yourself into the hands of mystery 
and know that you are not alone or unprotected 
but loved and cared for.
May the God of MYSTERY bless you.

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