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A sermon for Good Friday

The Bible is at the same time 66 different books with authorship that spans centuries and also one continuous story. It spans mythos and prophecy, narrative and law, psaltery and lamentation, correspondence and Gospel, and is all at once the story of the relationship between people and God. It is one story of their working out their relationship with God and with one another, their working out what it means to be people who are be made in the image of God and who to have dominion over creation. Scripture is the story of the people of God as they figure out what it means to belong to God. And Good Friday is the lowest point of that story.

 

This is the lowest point of the story, this day, this crucifixion. It not the end of the story. This crucifixion is not the last thing that happens to God, the crucifixion is not the last thing that humans ever do to God. God will live. We will be forgiven, we will be saved. And still, this is the point in the story where we are today. The stories of these three days are stories that we retell every year so that we can be reminded that God’s acts of redemption and resurrection are repeating, as our our acts of persecution, mockery, and condemnation.

 

 

The first tale told of the people of God is of Adam and Eve in the garden. They break the one rule they are given and eat from the tree and come into knowledge that is meant to be known only by God — they wanted to be like God and so they ate of it. And their immediate and perpetual burden is of the awareness of Evil and it’s distinction from that which is Good. And this first act of people triggers the long arc of scripture quite like dominos, the people of God are burdened by this knowledge and they show over and over that they do not know what to do with it — they do not know how to keep themselves from picking evil and they more often even lose their ability to tell the two apart. Either at worst, given the option, humans will pick Evil at any turn, at our best — or perhaps at our most common — we simply cannot tell the difference between the two.

 

Over these books and books of scripture, there are instances where we rise to overcome our nature and on the occasions where we don’t, and God shows again and again that our inability to choose what is right never overcomes Gods ability to right our wrongs and set us again on the path. The very, very worst thing we can do to God is not enough beat God or to take us past God’s work of redemption.

 

And yet, Good Friday is a necessary reminder to us. God’s commission to us did not cease when the curtain was rent in two nor will it expire at Easter, in fact it will be made inaugurated and set in perpetuity at Pentecost. And as our work to love one another and to love God continues, as will our naïveté to and brashness with the knowledge of good and evil. Good Friday is a necessary reminder to us because yes — look at what God is capable of overcoming — and yes, look what we are capable of doing. Look how hard it is for us then to know the difference between right and wrong and look how hard it is for us now, for us still, to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, vengeance and justice, look how hard it was then and is still for our integrity to rise about the pitch of the crowd, or to stand brave in the face of power and authority.

 

When I face Good Friday, I am faced with humility. I am faced both with how much God loves us and I am faced with what we are capable of doing in response to that love. I see how God is unconquerable by our choices, naive or callous, and I see just how naive and callous our choices can be. I take in what we evil we choose that is called justice and I wonder where else and how else we do the same today. When I face Good Friday, I am faced with a humility that raises the question— do we know better today the difference between good and evil than we did we did on that Friday many many years ago? When I face this cross, I am given a humility that I'm meant to take with me as this story continues. Amen.

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