Good Friday, Year B

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Pentecost 15, Year B September 6, 2015 Proper 18, Year B Isaiah 35:4-7a, Ps 146, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37
Pentecost 12, Year B, Jonathan Myrick Daniels Commemoration August 16, 2015 Pentecost 12, Proper 15 Proverbs 4:20-27, Psalm 85:7-13, Galatians 3:22-28, Luke 1:46-55
Pentecost 11, Year B August 9, 2015 Proper 14, Year B Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Pentecost 10, Year B August 2, 2015 Proper 13, Year B Ephesians 4:-16, John 6:24-35
Pentecost 8, Year B July 19, 2015 Proper 11, Year B Psalm 23, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Pentecost 7, Year B July 12, 2015 Pentecost 7, Year B Ephesians 1:3-14
Pentecost 6, Year B July 5, 2015 Proper 9, Year B Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13
Pentecost 5, Year B June 28, 2015 Proper 8, Year B Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30
Pentecost 4, Year B June 21, 2015 Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year B 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41
Pentecost 3, Year B June 14, 2015 The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34
Pentecost 2, Year B June 7, 2015 The Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5 Genesis 3:8-15, Ps 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35
Pentecost 1, Year B -Trinity Sunday May 31, 2015 Pentecost 1, Year B, Trinity Sunday Isaiah 6:1-8,Psalm 29,Romans 8:12-17,John 3:1-17
Easter 7, Year B May 17, 2015 Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B John 17:6-19
Easter 6, Rogation Sunday, Year B May 10, 2015 Sixth Sunday of Easter, Rogation Sunday Deuteronomy 11:10-15, Mark 4:26-32
Easter 4, Year B April 26, 2015 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18

 

Good Friday, Year B

Sermon Date:April 3, 2015

Scripture: John 18:1-19:42

Liturgy Calendar: Good Friday, Year B


What is truth?

The question that Pilate asked echoes down through the centuries.

What is the truth of this story?

Has the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus really made a difference in the ways of this world?

The daily news reminds us that the world is a long, long way from being redeemed.

So in the light of what goes on around us every day, what exactly is the truth of this story, assuming that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection really has made a difference?

First of all, God has a plan for us. The overarching story in scripture is all about God’s plan, summed up in the Old Testament by that verse which I’m sure many of you have heard before—found in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29:11)

Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God’s plan from the beginning of time—when the first human beings found themselves in a garden, a part of God’s extravagantly abundant and spectacular creation, a place so perfect that God came and walked there at the time of the evening breeze.

Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I often wonder why God entrusted us with free will.

We are made in God’s image, and we know from Holy Scripture that God certainly has free will, and so God must have decided that we were to have free will as well.

As it turns out, our free will has kept us from living fully into God’s plan for us, God’s plan to prosper us, to give us hope and a future.

God’s Plan A was the goodness of creation, and God’s presence with us–all we needed for hope and for our futures, but to this day, we human beings just can’t accept that—and we seek prosperity, and build our hopes and our futures on our own efforts and enterprise—which can end up less than joyfully, or downright destructively, when God is left out of the equation.

So God came up with Plan B.

In Plan A, God walked with two human beings who ultimately chose not to walk with God, and who chose to reject God’s plan.

In Plan B, God decided to walk once again with us in God’s creation—this time in a creation torn apart by human greed, miscalculations, hatred, and violence. (And this list could go on)

And so the Word became flesh and Jesus pitched his tent among us, to dwell with us as one of us, to walk through this broken world bringing light, healing, bread, living water, redemption, a gateway into new life, to be the vine that sends life out into its branches, to be the shepherd who shows us the way, the one who leads us through the valleys and shadows of our lives, the one who goes with us through our deaths and the one who is our resurrection.

God’s Plan A did not include death.

But our less than grateful response to Plan A gave death a chance to enter into God’s creation. Death became a permanent consequence of our free wills gone bad. Death was our contribution to God’s perfect creation and death now shapes what creation ultimately has become.

So Plan B now includes death in this life. As scripture tells us (Isaiah), the grass withers and the flowers fade, and ultimately, we too will die. Our deaths occur simply because we inhabit mortal bodies—death is a fact of life.

Now I have to tell you what Plan B does not include—God deciding that God needs another angel in heaven, another flower in God’s garden, that God is sitting somewhere in a far off heaven picking off people here and there because God “needs” that person more than we do, etc. etc.

We hear these maddening platitudes every time someone dies.

God must have wanted that person now. But what kind of God would take away the people we love from us because God must want them more than we do?

Stop and think!

What is wrong with this picture?

God already has us! God holds us in the palm of God’s hand. We rest in the shelter of God’s wings. And we know that God’s plan for us is to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future.

So Plan B does not include God planning our deaths for us, although God is certainly actively holding us as we go through the process of death. God mourns with us and those who love us as our mortality plays out and death inevitably returns us to dust.

Because Plan B automatically includes death, Jesus died. And he died a particularly brutal and unjust death at the hands of those whose free will had nothing of God in it. Jesus chose this death. And he did not try to subvert his death, or to short circuit the excruciating process of death which he suffered.

This too, is part of God’s Plan B. Death is now part of the plan, but because of Plan B, we know that God shares in that part of our journey with us, as we suffer through the deaths of our loved ones and eventually, through our own deaths.

God, the great I AM, the creator of heaven and earth, has also walked through the dark and lonesome valley of death, and has died the death that each one of us will experience.

Plan B also includes the defeat of death—which we know as the resurrection. God chose to resurrect Jesus on the third day, and we will celebrate this great defeat of death on Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection.

So what is the truth in this whole story for us, still living in a broken world in spite of Jesus’ life, crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension—a world in which death inevitably shapes our lives?

For me, tonight, the truth boils down to this—

God’s Plan B brings Plan A back into play. Once again, in spite of the fact that we now live in a broken world in mortal bodies, we can see glimmers of God’s original creation—even in simple things, like a baby’s first smile, bulbs pushing their way out of the ground in early spring, in the flame of a candle, in our love and care for one another.

Plan A—even in the face of death—as God walks with us through that valley of death, and our knowledge that God will be with those whose paths are made crooked by our deaths—God still has the desire and the plan for those left behind to prosper, to have hope and to have a future—that those whose lives are ruined by someone else’s death—that God will once again set their paths straight.

So, once again, we have options, just as Adam and Eve did back in the beginning of time—once again, we have the option of choosing Plan A.

We can choose life in Paradise, starting here and now, heaven on earth. We can claim the knowledge that God loves us, and that God’s plan for us really is to prosper us, to give us hope and a future.

What is truth?

The truth is that we can trust this plan—even when and especially when we find ourselves in the valley of the shadow of death.

Amen.

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