- The Rev. Samuel Hartman
Remember the old hymn, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand.” Beneath the Cross of Jesus – that’s where we stand today, gladly.
Standing at the foot of the Cross, we see suffering, death; betrayal; loss and sorrow. “It is finished…. “ Jesus says. Has it all been for nothing? he asks, we ask.
Theologians and the simplest believers, all of us struggle to find the meaning of this day, the meaning of Jesus’ death. And all of our explanations fall short. The mystery of God on the Cross goes far beyond anything we can understand. We cannot say – we cannot put it into words – we are not God, to explain and understand.
But we know that on this day, which we strangely call Good Friday, all we can do is stand beneath the Cross. We stand and trust, filled with sorrow, filled with joy, knowing in faith that here – somehow – we are in the presence of God’s redeeming grace and love.
God is here, with Jesus, dying like us, with us, for us, on the Cross. God does not abandon us – or Jesus – in suffering and death.
Here, we are surrounded, embraced, held by the passionate, burning, forgiving power of God’s love.
We stand beneath the Cross for ourselves, offering our lives and giving thanks for God’s forgiveness and love.
We stand here with others, others who don’t understand this day, or simply don’t care.
We stand here with those suffering from all the violence in the world. Violence and oppression flowing out of greed or anger. Violence done in the name of Christ and in the name of religion.
We stand here with those in prison, those who are ill, those on the battlefield, those who are dying.
We stand here with soldiers and terrorists, politicians and police officers, peacekeepers and thieves and saints.
We stand here with those who cannot – or will not pray, those who cannot believe, those who have lost hope.
We stand here, before the Cross, in sorrow for our own sins and the sins of humanity, which have tried to kill God and put Jesus on the Cross.
We are here. Beneath the Cross, with our Lord. We are here, when they crucified our Lord.
In the shadow of the Cross burning love of God judges us – all of us - and condemns our sins, and, if we accept his forgiveness, he washes our sin away.
In the shadow of the Cross, the overwhelming, life-giving love of God embraces us – all of us – and judges us and forgives us and heals us.
Beneath the Cross – where we stand today – the creative love of God gives us hope – the promise, the reality of resurrection life.
Beneath the Cross of Jesus we take our stand – in faith, in love and joy. We do what we can; we are here.
And in faith we know that the Word of God will be spoken again, the creative, redeeming powerful Word of Love.
Life will come out of death – there will be Resurrection.