One of my friends and colleagues, David Hansen, wrote a fine blog entry reminding us all that today is not pre-Easter Saturday and that we shouldn’t fast forward to resurrection glee (even as we prepare the lamb and arrange the flowers). Click here to read his thoughts. David is right; today we are still in the midst of the passion; at least until that beautiful moment in this night’s Easter Vigil when the first joyous notes of Easter will sound. But that’s tonight, not right now.
For now we still wallow in the dark; after last night’s Good Friday worship, we are painfully aware of the brokenness that binds and blinds us to the face of Christ in our neighbors and in the strangers we encounter. We seek peace, yet reap discord. We crave love, but sow seeds of indifference and disdain. We desire to do good, and still our selfishness curves us inward and away from those who need us most. Yes, even though the sun is shining brightly outside my window, the very heart of darkness is present.
A young boy asked our Children’s Church leader last Sunday why Jesus had to die. Talk about a loaded question! Knowing her, I suspect she gave a good answer wrapped in love, yet his question has haunted me all week as I contemplate my Easter sermon.
Why? Why indeed did Jesus have to die? Oh, sure I can spout all the correct theological arguments and explanations, but at the heart level the question still cries out . . . why, why, why? The words sin, atonement, forgiveness, murder, evil, hatred, brokenness, and love are all engaging in a fierce round of cranial bumper-cars right now.
Another wise and wonderful pastor, Nadia Bolz Weber, offers a concise explanation of sin and forgiveness:
Because sin is just the state of human brokenness in which what we say and do causes these sometimes tiny and sometimes monstrous fractures in our relationships and in our earth and in our selves and in strangers and in those we love and sometimes even in our own bodies. Sin is the self curved in on the self. And it’s not something we can avoid entirely. Which is devastating.
And forgiveness of sins was just too close to the heart of Jesus for me to think it’s about some divine eraser in the sky letting me off the hook for being bad. I think forgiveness of sins is more about how Jesus saw the ugly truth of those around him and loved them in a way they could never love themselves.
That last sentence really hit the mark for me. Jesus, God Incarnate, sees the ugliness and darkness that I can’t erase from the deep recesses of my soul, and loves me anyway.Wow! This is truly wondrous love.
When I think of sin, I think about the kitchen floor I hate to mop. The linoleum has all these little grooves and depressions that catch the dirt and grime of daily living. No matter how diligently I swiffer and no matter how hard I scrub with a toothbrush on my hands and knees (and let me assure you that does NOT happen often), it is virtually impossible to remove all the dark trackings and leavings of the world. Yuck. I hate for people to see my dirty, dingy kitchen floor, yet it’s the room I love most in the house.
Jesus can look at the kitchen floor of my heart, and love me without flinching. That, my friends, is real love. This weekend, whether you celebrate the Creator’s love and continued redemption through the Passover or through the resurrection of the Christ, remember that you are loved–unflinchingly–by the One who created all things and called creation good. Now that’s worth some serious thanksgiving AND thanks-living!
Photo by quinnanya used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!