IL EST FINI …
April 10, 2020
THE GOOD FRIDAY of the PANDEMIC YEAR
The encouraging words of Andre Bocceli are helping me through this Holy Week. No, I am not someone who regularly listens to his incredible voice because his music isn’t my music. But sometimes it takes words from a faith-filled person … sometimes it takes the spirit of music … works of art … incredible poetry … the voices of birds or a full moon’s brilliance to carry us into God’s light … and then the Spirit of God comforts us … and when we finally turn to look up to God our human reliance is finished and we are home alive in our faith and ready to be God’s children again.
Friends, we come to the waning moments of that dark Friday … the Son of God whose life example taught us to embrace our fellow man whoever that person was; no matter what they looked like; and it didn’t matter to Him whom they lived with nor who they loved … Jesus reached out his arms to hold anyone and everyone. And, as Jesus paused after glancing at his mother He knew that God’s victory through His life and death were completed. He had delivered the lessons … His words had been clear and concise … His love unrefuted … and the promise of eternal life once again shared from the tree He was on.
He took one last sip of the bitterness offered by men full of disdain for the holy. A bitterness reflecting the choice opposite of the one that God has given through Christ. After a day when crowds inspired by the hateful chanted in favor of an unjust death … after the torment and suffering … after once again rescuing a man whose life history was one deserving of the cross but God offers more to all … JESUS CHRIST looked out one last time realizing that He had clearly shown the world what God expected of God’s creation … He had demonstrated through His life actions and His words how humanity was to live in the days to follow. It was clear … the rabbi’s teaching days were no longer needed.
The work of Jesus Christ was FINISHED!
But, in this year of pandemic friends … when the nation of Italy has seen death after death … Andre Boccelli said “SI” … Yes, I will sing at the Duomo in Milan on Easter! He said, “We will celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs! I believe in the Christian Easter; a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone truly needs right now.”
So, here we are on this Friday of darkness perhaps you like me are experiencing a cloud of darkness like no other one we have lived through in our days here on earth. It is so easy to grasp for the tremor lines of fear in these moments but we need to stand up and regain our focus because if you look at the scoreboard JESUS won … game, set, match …
God has provided all it takes for humanity to rediscover our possibilities and it comes from this week … this Holy Week in which we have already witnessed cheering crowds … chanting evil crowds buying into lies … healing of enemies in the Garden … loving reminders in last night’s Upper Room … and now His work is done … it falls to us to rediscover the Creator … to embrace the Savior and follow Him and then to actively and openly invite the Holy Spirit to be our guide.
You see church … this season of Lent has been our opportunity to find moments of isolation separating us from our busy lives so that we can realign our priorities … this season of Lent beginning with the ashes marking us as mere dust but with a cross of rescue in front of us is coming to a dramatic conclusion that requires something from each of us because as Jesus as stated His work is indeed finished.
The goal of His work on earth wasn’t to make sure people who go to Christian churches remember to decorate our Christmas trees each year and then pile wrapped gifts under them. It wasn’t that we spend so much of our time focused on Christmas each year. Just imagine if those who put up Christmas decorations, wrap presents, baked cookies, demanded people say Merry Christmas rather than Happy Holidays, and tried to outdo their neighbors with lights and Santa’s wrapping their yards gave as much time each year to living out the lessons of life from Christ … the lessons of Jesus. We give ten percent of our year focused on a manger birth tainted by a jolly old fat man with an airborne sleigh led by reindeer while ignoring or openly rejecting caring for those who are hurting.
Jesus declared to those around Him, “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me! I am the way, the truth, and the life! I give you a new commandment. Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how everyone will know that you are mine.”
Imagine the sadness of God on this day in the year 2020 when so many hate each other because of the other’s politics … when so many mock and demean those who are not exactly as they are. Imagine God’s thoughts this Lenten season … hoping that the global community will finally get the lesson … the teacher had put down the chalk, He had cleared the white board, he had turned off the stream because friends the message was so clear … the lesson so evident … the love so real.
Love as demonstrated by the Good Samaritan … look it up! Revival and recovery of a relationship with the Holy demonstrated by the Prodigal son … look it up! A very specific requirement not based in politics but in God established policy to feed the hungry and welcome the stranger … it’s right there amidst Jesus’ Words … And, Salvation with an end to our fears providing us the promise of eternal life … it’s right there too.
Jesus lived … Jesus loved ALL … Jesus healed … and He taught us how to. This is a dark day because humanity chose to side with the dark evil forces of hate to hammer the Son of God to a cross where those politically motivated religious leaders thought they had ended the challenge to their power but they were wrong … the Son of God had won; the battle was over; the replay is available for all who seek … His work as a teacher and rabbi were finished in that moment … He never had to taste the bitterness of the evil side of human live again … so you and I get to choose whether we accept the lesson that was well taught and live a life based on that knowledge before we are finished.