Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good Friday Sermon

At midnight I awoke and gazed up to heaven;
No star in the entire mass did smile down at me at midnight.

At midnight I projected my thoughts out past the dark barriers.
No thought of light brought me comfort at midnight.

At midnight I paid close attention to the beating of my heart;
One single pulse of agony flared up at midnight.

At midnight I fought the battle, of human woe;
I could not decide it with my strength at midnight.

At midnight I surrendered my strength into your hands!
Lord! over death and life You keep watch at midnight!
(Freidrich Ruckert)
At midnight, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus pondered his life & where he was that night, he prayed to God and was ultimately betrayed & arrested. Freidrich Ruckert’s poem reminds me that Maundy Thursday ends with Jesus’ surrender to God’s will and to those who come out to arrest him, and Good Friday is all about God’s silence in the face of the crucifixion.

Good Friday is also the midnight of our faith. Our savior dead on a cross, buried in a tomb, we await God’s promise and our hope of new life. It is in those dark times when there seems to be no light, no hope, nothing that we wait. Hoping God is still working even when at those Good Friday moments we wonder if God has forsaken us. At the Hope for Haiti telethon, Dave Matthews & Neil Young sang a duet on a song titled “Alone & Forsaken” and after seeing those terrible scenes of destruction in Haiti, I thought the song was very appropriate for the Haitians and those words could have been from Jesus about humanity on Good Friday:
We met in the springtime
When blossoms unfold
The pastures were green and Meadows were gold
Our love was in flower as summer grew on
A love like the leaves has withered and gone
The roses have faded
There's frost at my door
The birds in the morning don't sing anymore
The grass in the valley has started to die
Out in the darkness the whippoorwills will cry

Alone and forsaken
By fate and by man
Oh lord if you hear me
Please hold my hand
Oh please understand

The darkness is falling
The sky has turned gray
A hound in the distance is starting to bay

I wonder, I wonder what he's thinking of
Forsaken, forgotten without any love

Alone and forsaken
By fate and by man
Oh lord if you hear me
Please hold my hand
Oh please understand
Jesus betrayed, forsaken, and alone, it was the midnight of his faith and so it is for our faith, we hold on to hope, waiting for the dawn, and expecting a miracle:
“Jeanette was buried for six days in the debris of a bank in Port au Prince (Haiti). Her husband, Raja, stood faithfully all that time, watching, waiting for help, pleading with anyone who could help him find his wife. He waited, not knowing if she was dead or alive, but waiting in hope. He rushed in every time ground was cleared at the bank.” The Los Angeles rescue team arrived, searched and almost gave up hope when suddenly there was an indication that someone might be alive down there. They listened carefully and her voice was heard. Many long hours of digging and she was finally freed. And as she emerged she shouted “Thank God” and then burst into song: “Don’t be afraid of death” she sang. In her cement tomb she found God.”
Good Friday is our time to wait but just as Jeanette sang: we need not be afraid of death. Our faith & hope rests on the knowledge that God will deliver us. That death is not the final answer and the end of all things. That the darkness of midnight is not all there is. So tonight, we wait with hope for the light. Amen.

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