Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sermon for Good Friday 2011

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 10:16-25
John 18:1-19:42
A Sermon on the Seven Last Words of Christ

Wisdom 1:16-2:1,2:12-22 (probably written last part 1st century before Christ)
16 But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;

considering him a friend, they pined away
and made a covenant with him,
because they are fit to belong to his company.

2For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
‘Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades.
12 ‘Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
15 the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
16 We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
17 Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18 for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19 Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.’
21 Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
22 and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;

Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.(Lk 23:34)

I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise. (Lk 23:43)

Woman, here is your son. Friend, here is your mother. (Jn 19:26)

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Mk 15:34)

I am thirsty. (Jn 19:28)

It is finished. (Jn 19:30)

Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit. (Lk 23:46)

He had no beauty, no majesty to draw our eyes, no grace to make us delight in him.

He was pierced for our transgressions, and by his scourging we are healed.

On himself he bore our sufferings; our torments he endured.

He was pierced for our transgressions, and by his scourging we are healed. (St. Helena Breviary)

Forgive them: He who is innocent forgives the guilty.

I Assure you: He who committed no crime assures a criminal of his place in paradise.

Behold your mother: He who had no place to lay his head gives his mother a son to take care of her, and gives the disciple a mother to care for him.

Abandonment: He in whom God dwelt is permanently united with humankind in our sufferings.

I Thirst: He blessed those who are thirsty for righteousness. Now he, too, thirsts.

It is finished: Death. The end. “And as in Adam, all die, even so, in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Trust: All that is left is faith, hope and trust – in God.

All my friends have forsaken me; those who laid wait have prevailed against me.

They have smitten me with blows; they gave me vinegar to drink.

One whom I love has betrayed me; they have cast me out among the wicked.

The have smitten me with blows; they gave me vinegar to drink. (St. Helena Breviary)

For those among you who have been falsely accused, can you forgive as Jesus forgave?

For those of you who suffer guilt for wrongs you have done, can you accept that paradise is yours today?

Where is your true home? St. Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Will you let God give you rest?

Have you ever felt abandoned? Can you find comfort in Christ’s sense of abandonment?

For what do you thirst? Do not make do with vinegar on a sponge, but reach into the spring of living water flowing from Christ’s wounded side.

For those who may wonder if your life has been worthwhile, Jesus’s people, the Jews, have an ancient proverb: “It’s not for you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (comment from post below)

When you feel unable to forgive yourself or another, when you feel lost or abandoned, thirsty for something, seeking fulfillment, will you, can you, trust in God, commending yourself and all your life to Christ, trusting the Holy Spirit to give you God’s peace, God’s shalom, God’s wholeness?

Into your hands, O God, I commend my spirit,

For you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;

Hide me under the shadow of your wings.

Lord, have mercy,

Christ have mercy,

Lord, have mercy.

(Compline, The Book of Common Prayer)

Christ rests in the tomb. It is the Sabbath of Our Lord.

But as God will not abandon on the Sabbath a person whose life is at risk, neither can Christ abandon us.

He has gone into Hell, into death. He goes to seek the lost sheep. His cross is the weapon with which he strikes down the gates of Hell and death, and becomes the bridge over which the lost cross into life. The first are Adam and Eve. And after them, surely the most lost sheep of all, Judas. A thief has been granted Paradise.

The cross, once a shameful instrument of death, has instead led the whole human race into life. A tree stood in Eden, a mix of evil and good. Now a tree stands on Calvary, a tree meant for good.

“It is the source of light, not darkness.

It offers you a home in Eden.

It does not cast you out.

It is the tree which Christ mounted as a king [mounts] his chariot,

and so destroyed the devil, the lord of death,

and rescued the human race from slavery to the tyrant.

"It is the tree on which the Lord…

healed the wounds of our sins,

healed our nature that had been wounded by the evil serpent.

"Of old we were poisoned by a tree;

now we have found immortality through a tree.

Of old we were led astray by a tree;

now we have repelled the treacherous snake by means of a tree.

Indeed what an unheard-of exchange!

We are given life instead of death.” Theodore the Studied (759-826)

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