Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Friend's Homily of Praise

Throughout Holy Week, many Christian's reflected on the events leading up to Good Friday and Easter. Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, His agonizing Crucifixion and His triumph over death with His glorious Resurrection. Because we all know Easter isn't about bunnies, sweets and coloured eggs, right?

On Easter I didn't go to church. Instead I read from the Four Gospels, from Romans and took in the message I found in the New International Version. This is my first Easter since my being born again and I read it like it was I was a child reading it for the first time. It reinforced the notion that we were saved with Grace because of Jesus willingly taking our sins upon him and suffering the separation from God and His death on the Cross. It was a beautiful experience.

I was also treated to another reading all together. Many of my readers are familiar with my friend JB who often blogs on issues regarding Mormonism as well as other branches of Theology. He just finished his four years of study at Asbury Theological Seminary and was recently interviewed for his Pastoral license. He was asked to preach at a Good Friday service in his hometown. He favored his readers, myself included, with his sermon on the subject. In my experience, preachers tend to favor John or Romans this time of years, so I had expected JB to do the same. However, he pleasantly surprised me with his sermon on Phillippians 2:1-12 which can be found and read here.

For those who are unclear what a Homily is. A Homily is a relatively short sermon regarding theological and moral matters. And this Homily in particular I recommend to my readers, Mormons and Christians alike, because it really drives home what Jesus did for us.

My favorite part of JB's sermon was when he spoke of how dark Good Friday was, because it's true. Christ's crucifixion was the darkest day in history. It was the day, He suffered the first time he was separated from God's presence because he took our sins from us. And it made Easter Sunday all the more glorious. I will close by quoting that part of his sermon. I heartily recommend anyone who has forgotten just how important Jesus' sacrifice is to read this. It will warm your heart as it has mine.

"But it came at such a cost, a cost greater than we may ever realize. Jesus walked down the darkest of roads for us. Out of love, the Creator let himself be broken by the broken creation. Out of love, the Light of the world let our darkness engulf him. Out of love, the eternal Word of God let himself be brought to silence. Out of love, the Lamb of God went quietly to the slaughter. Out of love, the Good Shepherd laid down his life for his lost sheep. Over eighteen hundred years ago, a bishop named Melito preached a sermon on the Passover, and here's how he described the paradox of Jesus on the cross:

Hear and tremble because of him for whom the earth trembled: The one who hung the earth in space, is himself hanged. The one who fixed the heavens in place, is himself impaled. The one who firmly fixed all things, is himself firmly fixed to the tree. The Lord is insulted! God is murdered! ... For this reason the stars turned and fled, and the day grew quite dark, to hide the naked person hanging on the tree - darkening, not the body of the Lord, but the eyes of men. Even though the people didn't tremble, the earth trembled instead. Although the people were not afraid, the heavens grew frightened. Although the people didn't tear their garments, the angels tore theirs. Although the people didn't lament, the Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice.

For us. It was all for us, all for the forgiveness of our sins, and the breaking of sin's power over us and over our world! Good Friday was a dark day, darker than any day before it and darker than any day after it. But love suffered that day of darkness to bring us everlasting light. Love accepted that cruel death in order to raise us up to eternal life. Because even through Good Friday, death and darkness do not have the final word. God shouted the ultimate word to the world on Easter Sunday: "Arise, shine, for your light has come! Behold, I make all things new!" But Christ's resurrection revives us because, on that old rugged cross, love suffered obediently, love paid the price, love fought for us, even at the greatest cost."