Oakdale United Methodist Church
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Praise God, Love Others, Grow Spiritually, and Share Jesus!

From the Pastor

As we come to the Easter season, I have come to realize that within the Christian community there is much ambivalence about Good Friday. Many people, including myself, argue that Easter – not Good Friday – is the centerpiece of the Christian story. Augustine put best: “We are Easter people, and ‘alleluia’ is our song.”

 

That does not mean we should forget about Good Friday. What happened to Jesus on that fateful day was horrific. Falsely accused, Jesus was put to death by capital punishment or you could say “Caesar’s state sponsored terrorism.”* He was crucified.

 

But we cannot limit the meaning of Good Friday to the historical events that happened more than 2000 years ago. The cross has implications for all of us, even those of us in the 21st century.

 

Through the incarnation of Jesus, God comes down into the fullness of human dysfunction: its racism, violence, injustice, brokenness, disloyalty, and sin. When we are broken, God is broken. When we hurt, God hurts. And in Jesus, God wears the body of the lost and broken. That is why we call the Friday before Easter good, for God takes all this chaos of the world, all our brokenness, and transforms it. By love shown by Jesus on that cross, by his ultimate sacrifice, God reimagined the world with new possibilities.

 

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could go to heaven when we die. Jesus died on the cross so that we could live a new life in the here and now. Jesus takes on the cross to destroy all crosses of every generation. What is your cross today? Where is your cross? Crosses are everywhere if we open our eyes.

 

How many suffer under the crosses of racism, bigotry, sexism, and homophobia? How many suffer under the crosses of abuse by the hands of a parent or partner? Many times society’s least, last, and lost carry most of our crosses. What about the suffering at the hands of terrorists and white supremacists? Then there are the casualties of war, of unjust immigration policies, of brutal dictators to add to the litany of despair.

 

But we cannot exclude the Church. The problems are not just out there. Too many times are actions and words have excluded people too. We have failed to be faithful companions of Jesus, following in his loving ways.

 

Amidst this we ask: Can we do anything about it?

 

For all its violence and horror, Good Friday reminds us that we can change. Good Friday is an invitation to admit that something is not right in ourselves or our world. We cry with the Psalmist, “Forgive us, O Lord, for we have sinned!” When we admit our own failings and take on the crosses of others, we will find the wisdom of St. John of the Cross to be true: “Where there is no love, put love there, and love you shall find.”

 

So this year, come to the cross. You may find it crowded there. You will definitely find Jesus there. The road will be uncomfortable. You will experience hardships and sufferings, but when you reach the cross, your cross, you will experience the love that makes you whole, sets you free, and makes your Easter joy complete.

 

Sincerely,

 

Pastor Michelle

 

*Christopher J. Hale “This Is What Good Friday Really Means” Time March 25, 2016