If only Good Friday only rolled around once a year…Good Friday happens each and every day!

Let me begin where I believe we must begin on every Good Friday. Jesus did not die upon the cross to save us from sin. Jesus is not some sort of cosmic bargaining chip offered up in our place to a wrathful, judgmental quid pro quo god, who demands a blood-sacrifice in order to forgive us so that he and I do mean he can usher us into heaven. Jesus did not die alone on that first Good Friday and we have not gathered here simply to grieve something that happened nearly 2000 years ago. On this Good Friday, we stand in the shadow of the cross to grieve the death of LOVE; and there is one thing we all know about LOVE and that is that LOVE dies over and over again, each and every day. Each and every day people all over the world grieve the death of LOVE. Indeed, the death of LOVE is omnipresent. The death of LOVE causes us to tremble, tremble, tremble. So much so, that as LOVE dies all around us, something in us knows that we must insulate ourselves from the reality of death’s omnipresence or the sheer intensity of trembling will surely cause LOVE to die in us. Good Friday is the day that we set aside to lament the death of LOVE; an attempt, if you will, to confine the trembling to a more manageable time and place. On Good Friday, we gather together to tremble, tremble, tremble.

I was barely five years old the first time that I can remember this kind of trembling. These early memories of the trembling are lodged deep in my psyche and I confess to not knowing what actually happened. All I can tell you is how visceral these memories are and how formative they have been when it comes to shaping who and what I have become. It was 1963, I was just five, and my personal memories are but flashes that over the intervening decades have lodged themselves in and amongst the black and white footage that has become our collective remembering of this particular death of LOVE. There’s a surreal image, not exactly an image, more of a feeling prompted by my own mother’s sobbing and the impression of my Dad’s tear-filled eyes as together, with millions and millions of others, we attended the funeral of John F. Kennedy. Reflecting on my first experience of the death of LOVE, I can see now that the hopes and the dreams of my parents’ generation died again, just like LOVE had died for my Mom when the bombs fell all around her childhood home and again and again each night my Dad sought shelter from the bombs. As children of World War II, my parents’ generation witnessed LOVE’s death over and over again. They were all too familiar with the trembling that accompanies LOVE’s death.

As I was growing up, as each of you grew up, LOVE was assassinated, executed, snuffed out, bombed, napalmed, starved, murdered, and left to die over and over again. There were far too many funerals, too many opportunities to lament as LOVE fell victim to death. We all share countless collective memories of LOVE dying over and over again. We can add to that our own personal memories and it is clear that LOVE dies over and over again, each and every day. Continue reading

Good Friday Rituals or Crimes Against Divinity? – A Good Friday Sermon

A Good Friday Sermon preached at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in 2012

it is finished 22The memory of it still haunts me to this day. I was 18 years old. Some friends of mine from church convinced me to go to a big youth gathering. I don’t remember who sponsored the gathering, I do remember that most of the Lutheran youth groups in the greater Vancouver area were in attendance and various Lutheran pastors were involved in the leadership. At some point near the beginning of the event we were each given a small nail, divided into groups and asked to line up behind one of the three wooden crosses that were laying in the hall. We were then given our instructions. We were about to hear a dramatic reading of the Gospel According to John’s account of the crucifixion. When the reading was over we would be invited to proceed to the cross nearest us, knell down, take a hammer, and drive our nail into the cross. With each blow upon the nail we were asked to remember our own responsibility for the death of Jesus. We were asked to remember that it was we who had crucified Jesus, for we were the guilty sinners for whom Jesus died. It was a powerful, gut wrenching experience that still haunts me to this day.

I wasn’t the only young person who wept buckets that day. I immersed myself into the ritual act as I recounted inwardly the list of my own sins. Together with my friends, we left that hall believing that Jesus died because of us. We left judged, convicted, guilty, tormented, anguished, and full of hope, for we knew that Jesus had died to save us from our sinfulness. Like so many who have gone before us and like so many who will gather on this Good Friday, we left that hall believing that God sent Jesus to die for us; to pay the price for our sin.  Continue reading

Good Friday Rituals or Crimes Against Divinity? – A Good Friday Sermon

A Good Friday Sermon preached at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in 2012

it is finished 22The memory of it still haunts me to this day. I was 18 years old. Some friends of mine from church convinced me to go to a big youth gathering. I don’t remember who sponsored the gathering, I do remember that most of the Lutheran youth groups in the greater Vancouver area were in attendance and various Lutheran pastors were involved in the leadership. At some point near the beginning of the event we were each given a small nail, divided into groups and asked to line up behind one of the three wooden crosses that were laying in the hall. We were then given our instructions. We were about to hear a dramatic reading of the Gospel According to John’s account of the crucifixion. When the reading was over we would be invited to proceed to the cross nearest us, knell down, take a hammer, and drive our nail into the cross. With each blow upon the nail we were asked to remember our own responsibility for the death of Jesus. We were asked to remember that it was we who had crucified Jesus, for we were the guilty sinners for whom Jesus died. It was a powerful, gut wrenching experience that still haunts me to this day.

I wasn’t the only young person who wept buckets that day. I immersed myself into the ritual act as I recounted inwardly the list of my own sins. Together with my friends, we left that hall believing that Jesus died because of us. We left judged, convicted, guilty, tormented, anguished, and full of hope, for we knew that Jesus had died to save us from our sinfulness. Like so many who have gone before us and like so many who will gather on this Good Friday, we left that hall believing that God sent Jesus to die for us; to pay the price for our sin.  Continue reading

GOOD FRIDAY – Jesus did not die for your sin!

Good Friday Lament

Good Friday 2012 Sermon audio – here

Good Friday Worship bulletin – download here to be printed double sided