Good Friday Message 2016: Nothing Will Stop Our God
Today is a hard day. I’ll be honest with you; this is a heavy, challenging, somber day in the church calendar. This is probably not the biggest day for church growth or to invite a friend to join you for worship. I get that. It’s not easy to look at the cross. Before we get to the joy, music, and celebration of Easter, there’s always this day we must walk through first. And it’s not easy. Maybe it’s not meant to be. Author Sara Miles of St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church describes it this way, “I’d like to pretend that Good Friday, the murder of God by the people of God, is a one-time historical event. That is it took place far away, in another country, safely in the past. That someone very different from me – a Jewish leader, most probably, or some crazy rogue soldier—was responsible for the crucifixion, and now it only happens elsewhere, at the hands of terrorists, and Good Friday just means another day in church with beautiful music.”
But we know that this night is more than just another day in church. This day calls us back to the cross, to see again the sacrifice of Jesus and see once again the violence still plaguing this world. This Holy Week has included terrorist attacks in Belgium and the Ivory Coast, growing fears as a result, more violence in the streets of Indianapolis, and unrest and fear in our own lives. Maybe we’re not as far from the cross as we would like to think.
Tonight we will hear several readings from the Gospels regarding the suffering,
crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ. Some of the words will disturb us, sadden us, and challenge us to awaken again to the cross that is indeed still in this world. We will hear these hard words and stories tonight, knowing the rest of the story. We dwell in the cross and Good Friday tonight, but we know that Sunday is coming.
The author, speaker, and pastor Dr. Tony Campolo reminds us that “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” In a sermon several years ago, Dr. Campolo quotes a pastor he once heard by quoting, and I will only use a portion of his message, “It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns into his brow. But Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. See Jesus walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from his body. See the cross crashing down on His back as he stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s coming.”
Today might be Good Friday. We hear of more terrorism, the violence in our streets, the fear in our lives and we know that too often we live in a Good Friday world, but thank God the story doesn’t end tonight. We know the rest of the story. We know that Sunday is coming, but for now, I invite us to sit beneath the cross of Jesus, to look at the world through the lenses of Christ’s sacrificial love, and stand in solidarity with the brokenness and suffering of this world, laying down at the foot of the cross of Christ our own brokenness and pain, our own temptation to hatred and anger, our own burdens and sins, while laying down the hurt of the world. And as we stand together, it is our hope on this Good Friday that we find again the God who went to the cross.
Tonight, may we find hope that the God who came among us, felt our pain, experienced our suffering, and died our death is with us in the world’s suffering and in our own pain and brokenness. Nothing will stop our God, not terrorism, not violence, not our own sin, not even the cross. As we sit beneath the cross tonight, may we renew our commitment to the way of Jesus, the way of love, forgiveness, and peace. May we find hope that while we might live in a Good Friday world, Sunday is coming, and we are called to be resurrection people. Amen.