Good Friday – April 2, 2021

         And so, it is Good Friday. It’s day of paradox, of tension, of contradiction. It’s a day of darkness and light.  It is a day filled with vulnerability and truth.

On Good Friday, we find ourselves standing at the foot of the cross. Beholding the cross. And through Jesus, we are ultimately faced with choosing between the tale of two kingdoms.  God’s kingdom or the world’s kingdom.  Which do we choose?

Last evening, I presented the concept of our souls having a door, through Joyce Rupp’s book, Open Door. Most everything needs to be opened in order for it to serve it’s purpose. Clothes need to opened before we can put them on and receive their warmth and protection. A book requires opening before the contents can be shared. A house has to have a door or window opened before it can provide us shelter. A cupboard door must be opened before the contents can be retrieved. The same holds true for our spiritual selves. Being open is a prerequisite for spiritual growth. In order for God to enter our lives more fully, we must be ready to receive.  The door to our inner self must be open. Our mind and heart need to be receptive so that we can hear and receive what God is offering us. God needs openings in our lives in order to ‘get through to us’, to communicate with us, to nourish us, to stretch us toward greater growth, to revitalize and renew us with love.  (The Cup of our Life: A Guide for Spiritual Growth by Joyce Rupp, pp. 43-44)

The events of this past year have us standing at the foot of the cross, they have opened up a doorway; a doorway that we are invited to enter. The doorway to transformation. The doorway to transformative discussions about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And I am asking you to not close your own door as you hear DEI, perhaps in your workplace, on TV, in the church and to allow some air to move through your door. To quote Br. Keith Nelson, we seem to live our lives with the misguided illusion that we are “primarily individual selves whose personhood ends with the enclosure of our own skin. This is a lonely and exceedingly modern prison, not of God’s design, but the world’s. The early Christians wisely understood that we are persons held in a matrix of continuity, a mystical solidarity. We are formed from the same essential substance – “the dust of the earth” formed by God’s hand and drawing in life from God’s breath. It is this shared substance – manifest materially as our flesh – which God has taken to himself forever in the Incarnation, the enfleshment, of Jesus Christ.

So, let me put that in very simple terms. We are all connected. We are all made of the same stuff.  If anyone is getting beat up on the playground, then it’s not safe, even if I’m not the one getting beat up.

The world’s playground wasn’t safe for Jesus. We hung him on the cross. Jesus experienced all that we do when he walked this earth in the flesh. His suffering love was then poured out for all of us, for you, for me, for all of us. And Jesus gave us a new commandment last night, knowing he was about to be crucified – that we love one another as he has loved us.  This is what he asks of us.

What do we do with that?  What am I saying?  A beginning point might be that that love, made manifest, can show up in listening attentively to others. At the foot of the cross, when someone shares their story with us, we can choose God’s kingdom and believe the lived experience of others. We can believe their story.  We can listen attentively to a lived experience that is different from our own.

So in terms of getting to a place of believing somebody, especially where we are in this country now, it’s usually not automatic when you have completely different lived experiences. So you actually have to stop and understand and hear all of the arguments that are being told to you and being whispered to you about why this perspective can’t be real, why you shouldn’t believe this, what does this mean if you actually believe what this person is saying? You have to engage in that conversation so that you can understand when this person has said, “Yeah, when I was in this meeting, I was the only woman, or I was the only Black person there, no one made any eye contact with me the whole time, even though it was my presentation, and then they started asking Brad for all of the answers.” And you have to stop yourself and say, “Why would I not believe this?” And get yourself to the point to believe it.  Maybe we didn’t build this culture, but we’re part of it and we can do something about it now. This does take time…and a commitment to wanting to learn, to being open. A very wise person has asked the question…how do you spell love?  T I M E   Time.

With diversity, equity and inclusion we’re talking about the isms, you know racism, sexism, etc. The driver and the power behind all these -isms is the idea of scarcity. The idea that there’s somehow not enough. But there is enough. Our God is a God of abundance, not scarcity.

When standing at the foot of the cross, we have a choice. God’s kingdom or the world’s kingdom.  The world’s kingdom is not a safe playground for all people. May we open the doors to our souls and breathe in the breath of God, poured out for us all. May we venture out of our own house and enter the doorway into deeper relationship with others, meeting them where they are, listening.  That attentive listening, with an open heart and mind, that can lead us to understanding and love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”.  It’s Good Friday. We’re standing at the foot of the cross. I hope you choose life.  God’s abundant life, not the world’s playground of scarcity. The time is now because God is love.   Amen.