|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
|First Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 10, 2019||First Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 4:1-13|
|Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019||March 6, 2019||Ash Wednesday||Isaiah 58:1-12|
|Last Epiphany, March 3, 2019 – Rev. Mark Jefferson||March 3, 2019||Last Epiphany, Year C||Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 24, 2019||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year C||Genesis 45:3-11, 15; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C – “Be a Blessing”||February 17, 2019||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year C 2019||I Corinthians 15:12-20, Luke 6:17-26|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 10, 2019||Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Luke 5:1-11|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 3, 2019||Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Luke 4:21-30|
Sermon Date:March 30, 2018
Scripture: John 18:1-19:42
Liturgy Calendar: Good Friday, Year B
“Beneath the cross of Jesus, I fain would take my stand.”
A discussion in Bible study recently revealed that none of us knew what the word “fain” meant. “Fain,” it turns out, is an archaic word, whose use has been in decline since the 1850’s, but recently, there’s been a small uptick in its usage.
The word means to do something with gladness or pleasure, to be willing to do something.
So beneath the cross of Jesus, we are glad to take our stand, especially during this Good Friday service, when we focus on the cross and the saving action of Jesus who chose to give up his life on its hard wood.
In addition to opening for us the way to eternal life, Jesus showed us how to face the end of our lives gracefully.
In John’s gospel, Jesus does not resist death. At the end, he says,
“It is finished.” Then he bows his head and gives up his spirit.
He is completely present to that moment of letting go.
That present moment, his last moment, is sheer gift and offering.
What we can learn from this last moment in the life of Jesus is how to live every present moment that we have left in our lives as if each moment is our last, the summary of the lives that we have been granted, and to offer our moments as gifts and offerings to God and to one another.
In her book, The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, Joan Chittister points out that the gift of getting older is that we come more and more deeply to know that everything in life has meaning. We cease to take life for granted, because we know that life is now, this very moment.
We come to understand that “What we haven’t lived till now is still waiting for us. Behind every moment, the spirit of life, the God of life, waits….”
and that every small thing we do is meant to take us deeper into the substance of life itself.
In each moment is everything we have ever been and will become. And each moment is calling us to enter the fullness of life, to be gifts and to offer ourselves.
Even in the moment of death, our lives continue to unfurl.
We are taken deeper into the substance of life itself, through death, death being what Chittester calls “the birth canal of what the spirit says must be a new, another kind of life.”
And the moment when we die is the moment of saying “it is finished” to all that has passed, and to completely surrender to the process of passing through that birth canal into the newness of life that God has laid out for us.
“Surely, Chittester says, “one of the purposes of this life is to bring us to the point where we come to trust the universe, to recognize the logic of its apparent chaos in our lives…
But that kind of great, openhearted trust comes slowly.
It comes only to those who can look back down the years and realize that tragedies turned into blessings. In the end.”
Study the cross.
On it, a tragedy turned into a blessing. In his last moment, with his final breath, Jesus knew everything he had ever been and everything that he would become.
On the cross, Jesus entered the birth canal that would take him into his new, resurrected life. His death held within it his new life—and ours.
Study the cross.
Knowing what happened on that cross can bring us to that place of “great, open-hearted trust” as we look back down our own years and see the meaning of our own lives graciously revealed, even in the tragedies.
And then at that moment of final revelation, when our last moments come, we too can graciously say, “It is finished,” and enter with gladness into the new joys that await.