Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fools on Parade

Mark 11:1-10; Philippians 2:1-4

        During high school, and then later in the Army, I had my fill of parades. First there were the uniforms.  Dressed up in outfits that were stylish in the 1940s, we children of the Beetles looked like Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band. Then there was the music. When it came to parades, the composer of choice was Sousa. I am sure his music was rousing in the 1890’s but few people today sit around listening to El Capitan.  When I was in the 492nd Army band some of us requested we play Sousa’s The Liberty Bell.  Our director never caught on that it was the theme song to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The band, and some folks along the parade route, enjoyed our bit of fun.

        Parades always seemed to be a mindless exhibition of endurance and dexterity. You have no idea how difficult it is to play a trumpet while glancing down to see what gifts the horses ahead left in your path. Parades were long and often in freezing weather.  Yet regardless the conditions, parades always bring out a crowd. From Hampton Virginia to Pamunjan Korea, when there is a parade, the folks along the sidewalks appear to be in a festive mood.

        Imagine Jesus and the disciples sitting around planning their weekly calendar. One of the disciples noticed Passover was just around the corner and said, “Hey, why don’t we spend this Passover in Jerusalem? I used to go to the Temple all the time. No offense Jesus but some of those preachers they bring in for the high holidays put on a real good show. The music is great and you can’t beat the food.”

        Peter spoke up, “Are you nuts? Why would you want to go to Jerusalem? Aren’t we in enough hot water here in Galilee? Jesus only gets away with what he says now because people like him. But if we go to Jerusalem, we will be the Passover lamb they slaughter.”

        John piped in, “Both of you are right. There is nothing like Jerusalem at Passover but it might be dangerous.”

        Bartholomew, who never said much of anything, spoke up. “I’ve got some friends with a room above their place. We can travel in pairs, slip through the gate, and meet up at their house. No one will ever know we were there.” 

        Judas put in his thirty cents worth. “Bart, that is a great plan. If we are careful, what could go wrong?”

        “What could go wrong?” Peter screamed. “We could all get arrested and spend the rest of our days in prison. Come on Jesus. Talk some sense into these guys.”

        Jesus sat quietly for a moment. All the disciples leaned forward so they wouldn’t miss a word. “Boys, let’s go to Jerusalem. Bart, contact your friends and see if they can give us a place to stay. Matthew, round up the food we will need for the Holy Meal. Judas you go take care of your business. James and John, find me a colt. If we are going to Jerusalem, let’s enter the city in style.”

        Peter whispered, “You are such a bunch of fools.”


        I confess being about as big a fan of Palm Sunday as I am of parades. For years I have tried to make sense of what we are suppose to do on this Sunday before Holy Week. On Palm Sunday some preachers will paint a picture showing the paradox of Jesus riding a colt when most parades are lead by generals on a white horse. I am certain you have all heard that sermon. Some choirs will sing an endless chorus of triumphant music which almost sound like they were written by Sousa. Some folks celebrate Palm Sunday as a prelude to Easter and skip Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. And then there are the ministers, choirs and congregants will scratch their heads and wonder what it all means. Count me among that group.

        Why doesn’t Jesus just slip into Jerusalem? Why the big parade? Why tell everyone, particularly the religious leaders that he was in town? Why did Jesus proclaim he was bringing in the kingdom of David to Jerusalem?  And when the Pharisees witnessed the crowd screaming hosannas and begged Jesus to calm them down, why did Jesus respond, “If they were silent, the stones would cry out.” On Palm Sunday Jesus makes a mockery of protocol, lampoons the religious elite, brings focus upon himself and his little band of marauders, and pretty much announces their world is about to be turned upside down. The arrival in Jerusalem seems comical, dramatic, and foolish. All it lacked was a marching band playing Sousa’s, The Liberty Bell.

        And then nothing happened.  Mark 11:11 reads, “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. He looked around and then left with the twelve to go to Bethany for the evening.” No one arrested Jesus. No one asked if he might drop by and discuss his upcoming plans to overthrow the Roman Empire. The religious elite did not him engage in a theological discussion. Jesus did not even do an interview with CNN. He just went home.

        This may not seem odd to you but as someone who prides himself on being a biblical scholar this is pretty strange. The most often used word in the Book of Mark is “Immediately.” Jesus immediately does everything. He immediately heals the sick, he immediately gathers folks around to hear his latest story, he immediately travels from town to town but now, at the beginning of the biggest week of his life, he just goes home.

        What a perfect way to end Palm Sunday. For all the pomp and circumstance, for all the bluster that was in the air, for all the anticipation, nothing happened. Understanding Palm Sunday in this way helps to take a giant step toward understanding Jesus. The Apostle Paul characterized him by saying, “Jesus did nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but humbly regarded others before himself.”

        How might this inform our understanding of Palm Sunday? What if Palm Sunday was an exhibition of the humbleness of God? What if Palm Sunday or even Holy Week is not about Jesus?

If you haven’t fallen asleep yet you have got to be thinking, “How can that be?” Not about Jesus? Jesus died. No worse than that, Jesus was crucified. Next week we will have folks we haven’t seen since Christmas showing up to celebrate the resurrection. How could I even suggest the coming week is not about Jesus?  

        On that morning Jesus paraded into Jerusalem he faced opposition from too powerful entities. The first is the power of Rome.  Pax Romana ruled the world, or at least the world known to the folks living in Jerusalem.  From India to the British Isles the power of Rome was legendary. Anyone threatening Rome would be held accountable.  

Perhaps less obvious was the power of the Temple. While Rome owned the body of anyone living within the empire, in Judea, the Temple owned their souls. The Temple defined God. The Temple confirmed when and where God would be worshipped. The Temple declared there was no other God but Yahweh.

And then there was Jesus. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem he did not stand in opposition to the power of Rome or the authority of the Temple. What he celebrated was the lowliness of God and that drove both Rome and the leaders of the Temple a bit crazy.

If all you can understand is power, then you can deal with power. But humility? There is no answer for humility. Jesus met the hosannas of the crowd with silence. Jesus met the demands of the Temple with a whisper.  On that particular day Jesus had not come to threaten Rome or challenge the Temple. He had not come to win over the self-proclaimed rulers of the universe or the interpreters of the Law.  Yet there he was and neither Rome nor the Temple had an answer for this humble presence. 

Remember the conversation Jesus had with James and John over who would sit on Jesus’ right hand. Jesus said, “You want to be first. You want to be important. You want to be great. I didn’t come here to make you powerful. I came to show you how to serve.”

In this day and age of doing everything possible to reach the top, those words seem foolish. Yet if you have a heart filled with grace and a soul generated by love, serving rather than destroying others becomes your goal.

        The Jesus we find portrayed in the book of Mark was not there to bring glory to himself. He was there to offer a moment of respite, a moment of joy, a glimmer of hope, to those standing along the parade route. That what a parade does. Parades bring a smile to a child. Parades present a break from an overly crowed day. Parades turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

        Palm Sunday is not about Jesus. It is about children who pick up palm branches and follow a dream. It is about fathers and mothers who have lost their way. It is about the disciples of any age who sometimes wonder what we are supposed to do next.  It is about the voices of authority becoming  perplexed by such a foolish demonstration.

        Jesus came, not for himself, but for each person observing this parade called life. Jesus came not to overthrow, not to overwhelm, but to help someone with a word or song. Jesus came to show someone who was traveling wrong. Jesus came to serve someone as a Christian ought. He came to spread the message his master taught. Jesus came and his living was not in vain.

Sing it Bill.



Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Foolishness of Faith

John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:4-9


In the past three months we have witnessed a miracle. On Christmas Eve Sam and Kelley’s son was rushed to UVA with a massive brain injury. This church immediately entered a season of prayer. We fervently prayed, “Let Brian survive 72 hours.” Then, as hours turned to days and days to weeks our prayers changed. The complications of such an immense injury began to weigh heavy on everyone’s heart. I witnessed a mother who refused to imagine a complete recovery was not possible. I witnessed a father who wondered aloud why God allowed this to happen. I witnessed a wife trying to understand the present in light of the future. I witnessed a church turning to God but not knowing what to pray. I witnessed myself praying to God for guidance in my choice of words as I sat with two dear friends who needed me to be more than a friend.

And then a miracle began to evolve. Suddenly we witnessed what few of us imagined possible. Suddenly our role and our prayers became clearer. Suddenly, as one, we gave thanks and celebrated the power of our faithful God.

Yet, in that same trauma ward, there were other parents, other friends, other people of faith praying for a miracle that would never be realized. Would they give thanks and celebrate the faithfulness of God?

What is faith? It is certainly something easily turned into a cliché. Faith can give us strength in times of weakness and yet make us weak when we exhibit too much strength. Faith is the belief in something beyond ourselves yet when we think we have figured out God, we discover we weren’t talking with God at all.

For me, faith is trusting in a mystery I will never completely understand. This mystery speaks in parables and difficult truths which too often offer more questions than answers. I believe in God. I place my faith in God. But sometimes I find myself whining at God when God chooses to contradict my insights.

For many, faith begins with a verse we learned as children. “For God so loved the world, God gave his only son.” Karl Barth believed John 3:16 to be the gospel wrapped up in one verse. This morning our text contains the verse that precedes this universally known statement of faith. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”

I don’t venture into the Book of Numbers often. I love Genesis and Exodus. Then I skim Leviticus and Numbers so that I might give Deuteronomy the attention it deserves. This morning, thanks to the writer of the Gospel of John, our full attention needs to be focused on an odd yet revealing story tucked deep in the book of Numbers.

It begins with the children of Israel in full whine mode. There is nothing odd about this. One could suggest the children of Israel whined throughout the entire Old Testament. Perhaps that is why they are called the children rather than the nation of Israel. The complaint this time concerned the route taken to reach the Promised Land. It’s not like they had road maps or a GPS. They knew they were lost. They knew they were running out of food and water. The results was they were quickly losing faith with Yahweh.

Walter Brueggeman, my favorite Old Testament scholar, likes to say, “You don’t mess with Yahweh.  Yahweh might be slow to anger, but when God’s patience is tested, hide the women and the children.”

Poisonous snakes suddenly appeared.  Ever encounter a snake up close and personal. We do crazy things when a snake crosses our path. I was fishing with Amelia McCulley a couple of years ago when she spotted a snake swimming in her direction. She was in a kayak. All she had to do was slap the water with her paddle. Instead she threw her brand new fancy fishing rod at the snake. Both the snake and Amelia escaped without injury. The fishing pole still remains on the bottom of the Shenandoah River.

The children of Israel were not so fortunate. People were bitten and died. They cried to Moses, “We have sinned against the Lord. Pray to Yahweh to take the snakes away.”

God said to Moses, “Make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. When the people look upon it they will be healed.”

What a strange story. Why would the writer of John use this illustration to announce the death of Jesus? This raises so many questions about the role of God and role of humanity in the death of Jesus. We talked about this a couple weeks ago when I preached on the foolishness of the cross. This morning I want us to focus on the foolishness of faith. Moses said to the children of Israel, “Look at the snake and believe God will heal you.” Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Look at the cross, and know God will heal you.” 

There is nothing logical about this. One of my favorite comedians was George Carlin. He was a brilliant guy that made a career on exposing what he believed to be hypocrisy.  He included God on that list. Carlin claimed, “We not only believe in some invisible guy up in the sky, we give money to him because if we don’t he promises we will burn in hell. And, oh yea, and then we claim God loves us.”

Carlen and a host of others have laid out arguments debunking God that are irrefutable to the logical mind. Yet faith never claimed to be rational. Praying before a bronze snake or the cross makes no sense whatsoever in the light of day. But that is not where our lives are always lived.

My grandmother Andrews was a woman of great faith. She came to visit Deb and me when we lived in Wilmington. After Martina would go down for her nap we would sit on the porch and talk. I would share some of my burdens of being a husband, father, and minister. She would say to me, “Andy, you’ve got to lay that burden on the cross where you can look at it. Burdens either kill us or make us stronger. You put it on the cross. You don’t have to bear it by yourself.”

George Carlin would scoff at such nonsense. Sometimes I do too, until life gets serious, or my burden becomes too heavy, or I wonder if there is any hope of discovering the dawn. 

Then I remember my Grandmother’s words.

Sometimes we just mess up. The snakes of life are swirling at our feet and what happens next might not be so pretty. Place it on the cross. Give your failure a good honest look. God doesn’t promise to solve the problem, but confession goes a lot further than excuses.

Sometimes we are uncontrollably angry with someone. We have justified our next step regardless of the chaos it might cause. Before you act, place that anger on the cross and pray there might be another option.  Reconciliation before vindication will not give you instant gratification. But it might save a relationship.

Sometimes tragedy has fallen upon us. We have no answers and we are losing hope. Place that burden on the cross. The end results might still be heartbreaking but even should we walk through the valley of death, we know God’s presence and God’s community will be walking with us.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews wrote, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” That is not quite good enough for a lot of folks. But it was good enough for my grandmother. It’s been good enough for Kelly and Sam. And it might be sufficient for anyone one brave enough, humble enough, or even foolish enough to lift up a burden, a sin, a fear, or even a nightmare, and place it on the cross.

It takes more than reason and common sense to trust in God’s grace. It takes believing in a covenant relationship older than life itself. It takes believing in the idea that God does love the world. It sometimes takes choosing the faith of your 85 year old grandmother over the logic of George Carlin.  To many folks this seems so foolish. But then if faith always made sense, it wouldn’t be called faith.

To God be the glory.                           Amen.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Foolishness of Confession

Psalm 51:1-12


        Many of you have had the pleasure of meeting my granddaughter Siddalee. She just turned four and believes that she, not Diana Prince, is really Wonder Woman. This has resulted in her two older brothers being a bit afraid of her. A couple of weeks ago she and Austin were playing when an altercation broke out. The results were Austin lying on the floor and Siddalee triumphantly looked down upon him. I called Siddalee over and asked her if she had pushed Austin. She looked at me and proudly announced she had. Trying to regain control of the situation I told her she needed to tell Austin she was sorry. She turned, walked over to her brother and sarcastically said, “Sorry”. Unsatisfied with her response I asked, “Did you mean what you said?”  She glared a hole through me and responded, “You just asked me to say it. You didn’t say I had to mean it.”

        I once heard that confession is good for the soul. In today’s atmosphere of division and tension, we will never know because lately confession seems to be considered a sign of weakness. Siddalee is not a product of imperfect parenting. She is the product of an imperfect time where we share false assumptions and flawed conclusions which are never effectively examined because no one is willing to admit they might be wrong. We have entered an era where prose has replaced poetry. Anyone can utter a sentence. Even the illiterate can paste together words that reflect anger and hate. But who stops to write a poem. Who pauses to reflect on the story that might be behind the verse? Who soulfully examines their own flaws before lashing out at another? Who is bold enough to painfully yet honestly pray, “Have mercy on me.”

        Three words essential to any all confessional prayer remain, “I have sinned.” Yet as my granddaughter has already learned, the truthful utterance of those words seems blasphemous. Why should I be the first to repent? Why should I be the one always waving an olive branch? Did we not learn anything from Neville Chamberlain? The closest we come to admitting guilt is, “I may be wrong, but.” Of course anytime the word “but” is spoken or written it eliminates any words that preceded it.

        “Purge me and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” The poem foolishly requests, “Change me; I am the problem.” In this day and age, who makes that kind of statement? I suspect when we pray, our most consistent request is, “Change my situation. Help my neighbor to understand the sinfulness of his ways. Help my sister to see how absurd she is being. Help the guy I just heard on the TV understand how stupid he is.” Instead the poet cries out, “Change me. Don’t just forgive me, change me. Keep me from making the same mistake. Make my mind open to Godly thoughts. Help me to understand my advisory. I don’t need agree with him. I don’t even need to like her. But I do need to try to understand them.”

        Rick Winters came by my office this week and dropped off a book he had mentioned it at our last Pub Theology meeting. I expressed an interest in reading it. The subtitle is, How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right. Written by Ken Stern, a former CEO of National Public Radio, it is the story of a professing liberal who decided to live among gun owners, evangelicals, climate change skeptics and folks who prefer Fox News. After his year of hearing about their lives, Stern discovered how much he had in common with those folks he once considered deplorable.  Through those conversations Stern discovered true confession only comes after the epiphany that no one, including himself, was perfect. 

This is a frightening disclosure if you happen to be Wonder Woman ……. or the King of Israel. One morning as spring ascended upon the land, an aging King watched as his army marched to war. This one time slayer of giants now had trouble getting out of bed. Only David’s imagination remained young.

        His eyes and desire shifted from war to a more personal conquest. Below he spied the wife of Uriah, one of his most trusted soldiers. David was king. What belonged to Uriah also belonged to him. The woman was summoned and told the king desired her. Was Bathsheba raped? Was she complicit? Was she ambitious? Those questions only expose our ignorance. David held the power of life and death over Bathsheba. He was the king and she was his responsibility. David initiated the act and was accountable for his action.

        Isn’t amazing how one selfish act complicates our lives. David committed adultery. David saw it as a small discretion protected by the court’s silence. He never imagined Bathsheba would become pregnant.  How does one hide the visible proof of the king’s appetite? The plot thickens as Uriah was summoned to come home. David assumed after weeks in the field his only desire would be to sleep with his wife. But the loyal soldier never left the side of his king. David sent Uriah back to the front line with a message for General Joab. “Put his young man in the thick of the fighting. He is expendable.” By sunset, Uriah died valiantly defending the king who had betrayed him.

        David committed adultery, deceit and murder. Only a king could survive such a turn of events. His loyal subjects might whisper but who would dare raise a finger against their king.

        Enter the prophet.  Nathan, a trusted friend, requested an audience with his king.  “Sire, I bring to you a tale of woe that I believe is worthy of your attention. Outside the city resides a small farmer barely able to make it from year to year. He owns one lamb, more a family pet than livestock. Next to the farmer is a huge ranch stocked with more sheep than the eye can count. The rancher invited a friend to come for lunch. Instead of slaughtering one of own his flock, the rancher took the farmer’s lamb.

        David was outraged. He grew up on a small farm. He spent his childhood protecting his father’s livestock from every predator imagined. David screamed at Nathan, “Bring me the man who committed this crime!”

        Nathan responded, “Sire, it was you.”

        What do we do when we are caught red-handed? Sometimes we deny. Sometimes we make excuses. Sometimes we offer an insecure apology. Each of these actions indicates it is only about our feelings, our desires, our reputation, our misguided understanding of self.

        What does David do?

He goes searching for his soul.

        There are a thousand words David could have spoken but he settled on these. Have mercy on me according to your mercy. Cleanse me from my sin. Against you I have sinned. You desire truth. You desire a clean spirit. Restore me to the joy of your salvation. There is no sacrifice to cover my transgression except a broken and contrite heart.

        In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the old king loses his crown, his kingdom, and even his vision, but in the end the villainy of the bad sisters is revealed and the purity of the good sister shines forth. But too much malice has already been set in place. The good, the bad, the weak, the strong, all die leaving no one but Edgar to place his epitaph on the tragedy.

                The weight of this sad time we must obey.

                Speak what you feel, not what we ought to say.

        What separates the tragedy of Lear from the resurrection of David? Confession! The cast of King Lear followed their deceit to the grave. They spoke only what folks expected to hear. David reached into his soul and confessed his sinfulness.  David remembered who he had once been and who he could once again become.

        The Apostle Paul delights in reminding us we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. I wish Paul had spent more time reminding us that 99% of the time we are pretty decent people. Unfortunately, when we mess up, instead of searching our soul, we search for an excuse. Then our blunder labels how others see us. Once this happens, our sin, not our godliness, consigns us to a particular tribe and the concept of neighbor seems to become hopelessly lost.

        Perhaps the restoration of one’s community, or even one’s country, begins with a contrite heart.

Perhaps as we confess, others might remember who we were and what we are capable of becoming.

Perhaps, if only for the sake of our grandchildren, we might do the same with those who have wounded us.

To God be the Glory.                              Amen.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Foolishness of the Cross

I Cor. 1:18-25


        Paul hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “The Cross is foolishness to Gentiles.” Truth is in recent years the cross has become an awkward symbol that no longer easily hangs around our necks. To the casual observer, how odd our faith must look, not only from the outside looking in but from the inside looking in. To the outside observer, Christians insist weakness is used to affirm the power of God. From our perspective, there is the paradox of redemptive suffering.

        The theological question at the center of this discussion asks how humanity becomes reconciled to God. The classical answer declared, “Reconciliation is impossible without an action by God.” Paul preached this Godly action was the death and resurrection of Jesus. The cross stood as the representation of this Godly act. In other words, death stands between us and God and only God is capable of erasing that obstacle.   This  belief has been reinforced for 2,000 years. The 20th century theologian Richard Niebuhr stated, “The cross does not deny the reality of the death. It reinforces it. What the cross does is deny death’s finality.”

        Many of us grew up singing, “The Old Rugged Cross”. Last Sunday the choir concluded the service by singing the first verse of, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”. And herein lies the problem. Those songs represent an ancient theology some folks find difficult to accept. Is suffering ever redemptive? Did God preplan the death of Jesus? For centuries folks were told their suffering would be rewarded in heaven. But today we question if the affliction of the innocent or the suffering of the powerless can ever be justified. For 2,000 years men in position of power determined what was theologically orthodox. But the tide has turned, giving us an opportunity to reevaluate the significance of the cross.

        Is suffering redemptive or is it foolish to consider such a thought? We certainly hold high our martyrs as example of one laying down his or her life for another. But many folks suffering in silence continue to be told by the church that their pain will eventually be rewarded. Is that redemptive or propaganda to protect the status quo?

        I think we must go back to the beginning and reconsider the question, “Why did Jesus die?” We can argue from a contextual perspective that Jesus upset the religious authorities and it was killed to retain social order. If there had been no resurrection, this explanation would have been satisfactory. Jesus would be celebrated as another prophet who stood against the powerful and lost his life.

        But the very existence of the Christian Church is based on the Easter event. Now our explanation of the death of Jesus becomes theological as well as contextual. Without the resurrection, there is no religious insurrection within the Jewish community. Without this insurrection, there is no Pentecost. Without Pentecost, there is no Saul. Without Saul, there is no Paul. Without Paul, there is no theological explanation of the resurrection. I realize that is simplistically overstated but when the explanation becomes theological, God is invited into the conversation.

        So the second question becomes, “What is the role of God in the death of Jesus?” Historically we know Jesus was crucified. His death was recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus. We know the early church existed. What we can’t prove is God’s intention. To be more specific, did God plan the death of Jesus or did God react to the death of Jesus?

        That is a question never raised in the first 1600 years of the churches existence. But then we became “enlightened” and entered the age of reason. The idea of God was not eliminated from human thought but the concept of God was understood more in terms of creation than salvation. While Christianity did not disappear it certainly began to wane. To a large extent human reason replaced faith. Liberty and freedom stood over against monarchies who claimed Divine Right had legitimized their power. Washington, Adams, and especially Jefferson considered themselves to be more humanist than Episcopalian. But then Napoleon, and Kaiser Wilhelm and finally the rise of Hitler and a second world war caused enlightened minds to question if the human spirit could really save itself. Once again the idea of human sin was introduced folks like Dorothy Sayer announced, “God was never longer content to call creation good from afar.” The cross regained its place at the forefront of any conversation concerning the intention of God.

        In the midst of the horrific human suffering of the 20th century, evangelicals such as Billy Graham took the ancient road preaching that God’s intention had always been to save us through the death of Jesus. Graham encouraged his flock to understand suffering led to heavenly rewards and the cross symbolized this. Other theologians claimed God reacted to death of Jesus and choose to be   immersed in humanities deepest afflictions. They condemned the cross as an unnecessary symbol which exemplified bad theology.   And yet there it hangs. Do we take it down? To leave it acknowledges that despite our wisdom and desire to be Godly people we still need to wrestle with the concept of sin. It is Hard to admit that we might not be perfect. It is even harder to admit that we might be sinners in need of God’s grace. Often we cringe at ancient words depicting such a horrific sight. But to dismiss the cross as foolishness seems to risk losing sight of the presence and love of God.

        Martin Luther King, a man who understood redemptive suffering preached, When I look at the cross I am reminded of the goodness of God and the ignorance of humanity. The cross is Christ at his best. But it is also is humanity at its worst. We must continue to see the cross as a magnificent symbol of love conquering hate. Yet in the midst of our glowing affirmation let us not forget Jesus was nailed to the cross because of human blindness.

        Psalms 27 ends, I believe that I shall see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong. Let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord.

        The Psalmist does not say I KNOW I shall see goodness of God. This is not some blind optimist waiting for Nirvana. This poet is searching for something to hold onto in the midst of his desperate situation. He chooses to cling to his faith by singing that his God is an agent of transformation.

        When I look at the cross I am reminded that no predator in all of creation is more dangerous than the human species. This caused me to I shut my eyes and tremble. Then I take courage that beyond the collective blindness of all humankind is the love of God.

Can I prove this?


But do I believe it?

With all my foolish heart.


To God be the glory.   Amen.