Good Friday Sermon…

This is the sermon I meant to preach had I had the manuscript with me on Friday… I’m not sure what came out of me that day sans manuscript. I pray it was in someway good but for those who missed it, pretend that this is what I said:

“Forgive them Father for the know not what they do.”
We never get it right. As righteous as we think we are, somehow, we’re never quite right. From Adam to Dominique: God gives us clear directives, don’t eat that fruit and we eat it anyway. Here is my servant Moses, listen to him and we don’t. Here are my 10 Commandments, a written document (you know how we like written documents) filled with the law and we don’t follow them. He sends prophet after prophet and we don’t acknowledge them. And when all else failed, God morphed himself into the form of a baby and came into the world as one of us. And although Christ’s followers believed, they and many others still didn’t quite understand. Poor God. I wonder what it must feel like watching humanity so arrogantly stumble and bumble around, certain that we know what we’re doing. Forgive us dear Lord, I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t know what we do.

And yes I said what “we” do, not what “they” do. In order to give you a full view on the grace of God, I need to place all of humanity, you and me in the midst of this Good Friday story. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” We tend to think of “them” as separate from us. We think of Judas. We think of those who stood and opted to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus. We think of the criminals on either side of Jesus. We can sometimes even go as far as thinking of the unchurched person on the street corner, the under churched who walked in her with the “wrong” clothes on, or the over-church person sitting next to us that somehow thinks their unyielding grimace is their ticket to the Kingdom. But it’s harder to look within and see the internal “them” that dwells within. We “yeah God, you should forgive THEM because THEY don’t know what they’re doing.” Little do we know that we are the THEM. THEY are us. We all are the ones in serious need of God’s mercy.

If we take an honest look at our lives we can begin to see how much we’ve tripped up and made mistakes. Like Judas, we were have been swayed in the wrong direction. We’d betrayed the one who loved us the most. Like those who screamed, “crucify him”… we’ve made rash decisions. Our going along with the crowd has had some serious consequences. We’ve stood very close to Jesus, like the criminal on the cross next to Jesus, yet our words and our actions mocked the notion of salvation through Christ. Whether intentionally or completely unintentionally, we are so often in the position where we need Christ to stand in the gap between perfect Divinity and flawed humanity and say “Father forgive him, forgive her. She doesn’t know what she is doing. He doesn’t’ t know the consequences of his actions.” And this is why I thank God that Jesus’ sacrifice acts as a reset button.

Jesus offers us forgiveness. His sacrifice is a negotiation of sorts, freeing us from judgment from God, freeing us from the judgment of others, hopefully freeing us from self-judgment and reminding us that we are in no position to judge others. Knowing that I am the THEY, knowing that I know not what I do, knowing that Jesus sacrificed for my lack of understanding, I don’t look left or right at the flaws of the person next to me. All I can do is look up and thank God for his mercy. Thank God for listening to the pleas of the suffering savior. I do my best each day to learn, to study, and to read the word of God but I know some things that are just too vast for me to understand, too easy for me to forget, too tempting to get swayed away from. There are some things that I know Jesus must stand in the gap for. I do the best that I can to emulate Jesus but I know the only perfection is God through Jesus. And he died for my imperfection. He died because Jesus saw something worth saving. I am so eternally grateful that Jesus stood and saw the mess that is humanity and yet loved us enough to save us.

I promised this would be short. And indeed it is very short but before I go I want to share a piece of a song with you. Oddly it isn’t a religious song. It’s by the pop star Beyonce. And it’s even more odd to know that this isn’t the first time I’ve used a Beyonce song to illustrate my point about the Passion of Christ. But there’s something about these songs sung by female artist sung about their lovers that sound like the worship and devotion that is owned to Jesus. I’ll take issue with this in another sermon. But for now we’ll pretend that she’s singing to Jesus:

I don’t know why you love me
That’s why I love you
You catch me when I fall
You accept me flaws and all
And that’s why I love you

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