Sunday, April 1, 2012
+ If you’re anything like me, you might be finding yourself taking a deep breath before this week starts. This is one of THOSE weeks. There is A LOT going on and, at times, it seems almost overwhelming. But, that’s just the way life works sometimes.
We, as follower of Jesus, now have to follow him through some unpleasant places. We are forced to follow him through the horrendous torture and through a brutal murder. None of us want to do this. We want our sunny, friendly Jesus. We’ll even take our scolding Jesus. We do not want this tortured, beaten, bleeding Jesus. But that’s what it means to follow Jesus. It means that what we are about to embark on is a very personal journey.
Yes, we might relate to the crowd who cry, “Crucify him!” Yes, we might relate to Peter in his denial or even Judas in his betrayal. Or we might to relate to the women who followed Jesus or to Jesus’ mother who must watch the torture and murder of her child.
But, the one we really relate to is the one we follow. Why shouldn’t we? When we hear this Gospel—this very disturbing reading—how can we not feel what he felt? How can we sit here passively and not react in some way to this violence done to him? How can we sit here and not feel, in some small way, the betrayal, the pain, the suffering?
After all, none of us in this church this morning, has been able to get to this point unscathed in some way. We all carry our own passions—our own crucifixions—with us. We bear, in our own selves, our own wounds.
Oftentimes those wounds we carry with us—those memories and pains we lug around—cripple us. They cause us to bleed at a moment’s notice. For every pain, for every betrayal, for every emotional or verbal or physical pain we carry with us, we are able to relate to what Jesus went through. And he, in turn, is able to relate to us as well—here in our pain. Because every time we suffered and continue to suffer, Jesus does too.
If we believe that Jesus is not still suffering in us and among us then we are deceiving ourselves. If we believe that Jesus is not still suffering the insults, the whippings, and is being murdered in our world then we are blinding ourselves. If we believe that Jesus is not still being denied proper burial and is dependent on the kindness of others to bury him, then we are have not been paying attention.
The Gospel story we heard this morning is our story in a sense. It is our story because we are followers of Jesus and because we follow him, it becomes our story too. Every time we hear the story of Jesus’ torture and death and can relate to it, every time we can hear that story and feel what Jesus felt because we too have been maligned, betrayed, insulted, spat upon, then we too are sharing in the story. Every time we hear about people turned away, betrayed, deceived, and we can feel their pain in some small way, we are sharing in Christ’s passion. When we can feel the wounds we carry around with us begin to bleed again when we hear the story of Jesus’ death, we too are sharing in his death, again and again.
But the greatest part about sharing in this story of Jesus is that we get to share in the whole story. Look what awaits us next Sunday. These sufferings we read about today and in our own lives, are ultimately temporary. But what we celebrate next Sunday is forever—it is unending. Easter morning awaits us all—that day in which we will rise from the ashes of this life and live anew in that unending dawn.
One of my favorite quotes is by one my spiritual heroes, the priest and poet George Herbert: He wrote, “Jesus dries our tears with his abandoned grave clothes.”
Our tears are dried and our pains are healed in the glorious light of Easter morning. This is our hope. This is what we are striving toward in case we might forget that fact. Our following of Jesus means following him even to that point—to the Easter light that is about to dawn into our lives. Our own Easter morning awaits us.
So, as difficult as it might be to hear this morning’s gospel, just remember that in the darkness of Good Friday, the dawn of Easter morning is about to break. With it, the wounds disappear. The pains and the sufferings are forgotten. The tears are dried for good. The grave lies empty behind us. And before us lies life. Before us lies a life triumphant and glorious in ways we can only—here and now—just barely begin to comprehend.