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No matter the cost ...
St. Andrew's Cathedral
April 14, 2017
"If there was no Easter Sunday, if there was no resurrection from the dead, then them and us would make perfect sense. But because there is resurrection, we are invited as Christians following Jesus, to allow our own hearts to be pierced, wounded and opened
to the power of love, no matter the cost.”
~ Bishop Gary Gordon
Good Friday. Good because of what Jesus has done for us, done for the world. In his death, death is destroyed. In his suffering, mercy is expanded to the whole world. The cross is not so unusual. It was common practice. The cross is not so unusual today. It’s common practice.
The difference with the cross of Christ and his death is that it has ushered in new life for the world. There’s always a question before us on Good Friday, as Christians—a very important question, particularly in this time when the divisions and the hostilities and the walls are growing greater and greater between them and us. And every human being that I’ve ever met has a list of the them and us.
The question before us on Good Friday, is The eternal Son of God, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, gave his life on the cross for the salvation of … whom? Them? Or us?
That’s an important question. The teaching of the Church from the first beginnings at Pentecost, was that Jesus died for all. That with the gift of his death on the cross for the salvation of the world, he set forth a new pattern that potentially can eliminate the them and the us. There is only, for the Lord, us. Everyone.
But this is not so simple, and it’s not so easy, for it if was as simple as belief and acceptance, we would not have the world that we have today, of them and us—and there are all kinds of thems and usses.
So what is it that is so difficult? What is the great challenge? What does Christ invite us to on Good Friday? It is to a good heart. To simply accept that for God there is only us. Everyone.
But it is so hard to get there. It is so hard to accept, and then to even begin to bring that acceptance to others, which is always mercy and forgiveness. We watch the news, and we’re immediately brought into the world of them and us.
Whose side are you on? Every day, we’re being pushed down this road of them and us. Jesus has given us a possibility of escape from what can only be described as insanity. Is it colour? Is it language? Is it religion? Is it economic? Is it poor? Is it rich? The list of thems and usses is huge.
And so before us on this Good Friday is to, in some small way, ask Jesus to heal those divisions in our own souls, in our own lives. To heal our minds, and our hearts, so that more than just thinking about being brothers and sisters, we can actually act on it. I know I’m asking for the moon. But I believe in the moon! God made the moon.
I’m hopeful because of the passion of Jesus Christ. I’m hopeful, but I am not unrealistic, that the conversion needed is only going to happen when the power and fire of the Holy Spirit rends our hearts. Pierces our hearts, to create opportunities for this family of God.
I’ll leave you with a little story. I like to tell stories. It will cause some to be upset, and it may be disturbing. But it’s a true story.
I have a classmate who is a pastor in Waterloo, and last week I was speaking to him, and we were both exchanging notes on what we were going to preach about this Easter Season: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. It’s always good when you’ve got a priest-friend that you can exchange notes with, and occasionally borrow some good ideas.
And so, my friend, Fr. Ted, was telling me that Good Friday in his parish in Waterloo is always a big problem. “What’s the problem, Fr. Ted?” He says, “It’s Friday! That’s when all the Moslems pray.”
The Mosque is two blocks from his church, and they have prayers at 2:45pm. So when all of the usses show up for our us thing, which we believe to be right, there is no parking, because them got there first!
So being Fr. Ted’s buddy and bishop friend, I said, “Well, why don’t you just change the time, Ted? Why don’t you put it at noon?” 3pm is when Jesus died, 12pm is when he started to die. It seemed to make sense to me.
He said, “Oh! Oh, it sounds so simple … But the people would be outraged.”
I know that Fr. John and the Cathedral community would not be outraged. We would gladly move to noon, to avoid the them and us in the parking lot.
It’s not so simple, is it? And it comes down to everything we do, every single day, and we need to figure out how we are going to have our hearts pierced as Jesus did, and how we are going to walk with Jesus to the cross.
We haven’t figured it out yet. We are still having parking lot problems. Fr. Ted did not change the time of the service. When I talk to him tonight, I‘m going to ask, “How did it go?” And he’ll say, “The same as it did last year. It was a mess.”
Can’t we figure out how to get out of the mess? It doesn’t seem like rocket science to me—but we’re really stuck. We’re really, really stuck, and God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and his vicar, Pope Francis, are crying out: Get unstuck and learn the meaning of mercy, forgiveness and love, no matter how much it costs.
Why can I speak so boldly about how much it costs? Because it cost the Son of God’s life. But we’re not stuck on Good Friday, folks. We’re not stuck on Good Friday. If there was no Easter Sunday, if there was no resurrection from the dead, then them and us would make perfect sense. But because there is resurrection, we are invited as Christians following Jesus, to allow our own hearts to be pierced, wounded and opened to the power of love, no matter the cost.
The path of love is before us. Let us open our hearts this Good Friday, so that we can have a good heart, and a strong mind for what we are invited to as believers in Jesus Christ.