Holy Ground of the Cross: God’s gift of forgiveness

Preached on 14 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Good Friday

Today, we come to the Holy Ground of Golgotha, the Holy Ground of the Cross.  It feels very different from yesterday on the Holy Ground of community.  Today, we may feel almost alone.

Perhaps we have a tiny sense of what they felt: the confusion, the desolation; empty, drained.  What was it all for?
What kind of God is this?

The crucifixion was not God’s plan.  God does not require suffering, pain, and death to be able to forgive.  The stories of the Hebrew Scriptures do present a God who forgives.  Jesus expressly said “your sins are forgiven” to many people over the course of his ministry, pronouncing God’s forgiveness.  God didn’t need the cross.

It was inevitable, though. Jesus is crucified as a result of human sin.  His life, his proclamation, his ministry made confrontation with Power inevitable; made his violent death inevitable.  Yet he continued.  He didn’t change his message.  He didn’t stop what he was doing.  He didn’t try to avoid it.  He rode into Jerusalem knowing what it would mean for his life and for those who followed him.  He faced the evil in peace without violence.  In the end, it is we who need the cross, not God.

Without death; without the cross, there can be no empty tomb.  And oh how we need that empty tomb.

On the Holy Ground of the cross, we are defenseless,  all our protective layers and excuses are peeled away.  We can no longer hide from ourselves.  We can no longer pretend to hide from God.

When we come to the cross, at last we see just how far God’s forgiveness and love extend.  If God can forgive the crucifixion of God’s son, surely God can forgive me; surely God can forgive you.  No sin or accumulation of sins is more powerful than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   I’ll say that again.

No sin or accumulation of sins is more powerful than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Crucifixion overcomes them all.  No exceptions. No “yeah, but…”

Whatever suffering we may experience in our lives; no matter how alone and desolate we may feel, at the Cross, we see that we are never alone.  Christ is with us.  Always.

On the Holy Ground of the cross, we witness the magnitude of Christ’s love and forgiveness for us. May we embrace them.