The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
Friday, April 20, 2020
It’s Good Friday.
The traffic in our mind has come to a stop.
Everyone loves a good wreck,
As long as it happens to someone else.
Hit the brakes.
Join the rubber-necking masses.
Stare with near obscene disregard for decency.
There lies the victim,
Right out in the open
For the whole world to see.
Never mind it was someone’s son or daughter,
Mother or father;
A name, identity,
A history, family, character.
Someone’s friend or foe, teammate or rival.
A corpse is among us.
Like a child at calling hours
We look up at him
Searching for any sign of life.
A blink of the eye.
Gravity is the only force left,
Like a slow drip from a leaky faucet.
We’ve known all along
Jesus is the one doing the dying.
We just experienced the Passion narrative.
It isn’t as if we haven’t heard it or read it many times before.
We know the plot,
From a garden encounter, sword play, arrest, and trial.
To Jesus bowing his head and giving up his spirit,
We know Jesus is the one doing the dying.
We know we are all about to die.
Oh, these mortal bodies begin to betray us with every passing year.
Aches and pains and doctor visits
Remind each of us
That, one day,
We will be told of our mortal diagnosis.
We will all be changed from the living to the dead.
Our peers begin to thin.
Fewer show up for reunions.
Meeting each other at funeral homes and memorial services
Become increasingly frequent.
Ash Wednesday, Memorial Day, and All Saints Days become rhythmic reminders
That we are all about to die.
We do not know with absolute certainty what happens when we die;
God’s mysterious nature is preserved.
Near death narratives capture our imagination.
Walk to the light; or is it darkness?
The scientific – oxygen starvation.
The theological – light of God.
The unbeliever – “Life is a beach, and then you die.”
Take a look around.
Does this look like a beach?
Resurrection has happened before.
But of those who have been resurrected from the dead;
Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter, raised by Jesus;
Tabatha, raised by Peter;
And Eutychus, raised by Paul;
Each lived again
Only to die another day.
So, they’re not talking.
No one knows with certainty what happens when we die.
So, what DO we know?
- We do know that God loves us.
God loves us enough to create us in God’s own image,
To give us the stewardship of God’s wondrous Creation,
And to make an eternal Covenant with us
and with future generations
that God will be our God
and we will be His people.
We do know that God loves us.
- We do know that God loves us enough to send us His Son.
Righteousness was too heavy a burden to lift,
An expectation too high to achieve,
A hope that was just one bridge too far.
Righteousness collapses under the weight of original sin.
We know God became our righteousness
When He sent us His Son,
To remove the stain of our personal and collective sin.
Wipes clean our slate
As if we were recreated
We do know
that God so loves us
that he sent us His only begotten Son.
- We do know that God’s love is eternal,
Therefore, life is eternal, too.
Why else would Jesus promise
“Lo, I will be with you always,
Even to the end of the earth”?
Why else would Jesus promise
“Where I go
I will bring you unto myself,
So that where I am
You might also be”?
Why else would Jesus pray to the Father,
“This is eternal life,
That they may know you,
The only true God,
and Jesus Christ
Whom you have sent”?
Why else would our resurrected Lord,
Gift to us the eternal presence of the Holy Spirit?
The resurrected Spirit of Jesus is with us
And is in us.
Therefore, we know God’s love is eternal,
And that life, in the spirit, is eternal, too.
- We know this to be true:
Even as the corpse of Jesus is removed from the cross,
Laid on a slab, washed, wrapped, and laid in the tomb,
Death cannot keep him.
Likewise, we know that death cannot keep us, either.
So, let us prepare to visit Jesus
First thing Sunday morning,
Right before dawn’s first light.
Death does not win.
The grave knows no victory.
This is what we believe.
This is what we know.
Death will not keep you or me.
There is only life,