Sermons

"Stand Before the Cross": Sermon for Good Friday, Year C

"Stand Before the Cross": Sermon for Good Friday, Year C

Apr 19, 2019

Passage:Psalm 22:1-30

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Robert Pace

Series: Holy Week

Category: Hope, Grace, Suffering

Keywords: cross, crucifixion, crucifixión, good friday, hope, love, suffering

Summary:

Good Friday is the Day of the Cross. On this day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus at noon more two thousand years ago. What does it mean for us today to "stand before the cross"? What does Christ's action of dying mean for us today?

Detail:

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Today is the day of the cross.

It's a day of stark remembrance and sullen forbearance.

Today we look inward and know we are helpless on our own.

Today is the day of the cross.

The cross holds our gaze.

What images of the cross stand out in your mind?

We have crosses here in front of us...beautiful crosses... a rugged cross...

Every prayer book in the building has a cross printed on it.

It's OUR symbol.

One image of the cross that's stuck in my mind this week is the Flèche Cross from the top of the magnificent spire that rose from the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. A "Flèche" Cross is an ornate cross made with arrows as part of the design.

On Monday of this week--Holy Week of 2019--the Notre Dame Flèche Cross plummeted into the fiery, burning remnants of the Cathedral. The world watched as that spire and that cross, engulfed in flames, fell and dissolved into the inferno.

I imagine that many here at St. Andrew's had particular emotion and connection as they watched that scene on Monday.

More than twenty years ago, this very church had a similar catastrophic fire. And sitting atop the church that stood on this very spot was another Flèche Cross on a steeple. That cross also fell into the flames that day, becoming part of the inferno. That cross now sits behind the altar of our Columbarium Chapel here just outside.

There is a helplessness we feel in the presence of the cross.

And the readings we had today put us in mind of this helplessness.

Psalm 22, for instance, is primarily about lament and sorrow. It starts off: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? and are so far from my cry and the words of my distress?"

We hear these words. We are drawn into the despair. We are pulled into the pain of that terrible day two thousand years ago when Jesus was tortured and killed.

In John's passion narrative--during Jesus' trial--we hear the acrid and poisonous accusations made by those in the political power around Jesus. We know that those accusations result in Jesus' death. But Jesus deflects all accusations. His "kingdom" is not from here.

But when we hear this story, we also know that we are the accusers. We are the accused.

We participate in never-ending, hurtful political arguments.

We don't love all our neighbors as ourselves...just the ones that are like us. We are so very clever in that last meme we reposted to our social networks--who cares if "those people" don't like it... they don't really count anyway. We hold people with differing ideas in contempt.

We love our stuff (it is ours after all)... we love our side (whatever side that happens to be)... we love our country (as we believe it should be).... We will defend these things the way we want them, no matter what... even though "love one another as I have loved you" is really what we are supposed to do.

We are the accusers of Jesus.

And this is the day of the cross. We are helpless before the cross.

When we feel betrayed by those we love, we stand before the cross, and our hearts cry out: "My, God, My God, why have you forsaken me!"

When we are afraid and feel alone, we stand before the cross, and our hearts cry out: "My, God, My God, why have you forsaken me!"

When we are depressed, when we grieve, when we are at the end of our rope, we stand before the cross, and our hearts cry out:  "My, God, My God, why have you forsaken me!"

But then... we look up...we see the cross....

We are called to know that it is so much more than just a Roman torture device.

It's more than just a nice piece of jewelry to wear around our necks.

We remember today that Jesus faithfully went to the cross. Jesus, who IS love. Jesus, who knows each of us. Jesus, who stood before the powers of this world offering God's healing and love... Jesus would not back away... even with the threat of death. He loves us all too much.

And now as we stand before cross.

We are called to remember that act of sheer...brazen...bold... outrageous love for all of us.

And we know...

...we are never alone...

And we know...

...we are loved unconditionally... 

And we know...

...we are called to take up our cross.... Go into the world...and love.  

Amen.