Look at him! Look not at his divinity but look rather at his freedom. Look not at the exaggerated tales of his power but look rather at his infinite capacity to give himself away. Look not at the first-century mythology that surrounds him, but look rather at his courage to be, his ability to live, the contagious quality of his love. Stop your frantic search. Be still and know that this is God: this love, this freedom, this life, this being. And when you are accepted, accept yourself. When you are forgiven, forgive yourself. When you are loved, love yourself. (The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong)
As we come upon the end of this season of Lent I find myself ready to fall into the arms of Holy Week. Don’t get me wrong, I am not unaware of what lies ahead; the days to come in between Palm Sunday and Easter are, necessarily, full of agony and despair. I recognize we will need to journey with Jesus to Calvary and watch the events of betrayal, torture and ultimately death. But I am also aware, perhaps more than ever, we make this journey together each year because we need to experience our pain and grief before we can make room for joy and to be able to rejoice. We make this journey as a community yearning for and clinging to hope. These days will allow us to remember and reclaim the fullness of what it means to walk this Christian path.
The story of the Passion is a deep and dramatic love story of sorts between God and Jesus, and by extension, between Jesus and all of us today. Not a love story of ordinary proportions, but rather one on a scale of which we can hardly fathom. As I sat in the pews last week listening to the sermon at my father’s memorial service I could hardly hear or make sense of the words being offered; not so much due to grief, which seems to come and go in waves, but because of a kind of disorientation or displacement I am experiencing now that one of my anchors of love in this world is gone. It is a painful and necessary reality in this journey having to navigate this loss.
It is also gift to stumble into life-giving moments of grace while grief is still a companion. Meeting with a family and their new baby, welcoming new members “home” to Trinity, preparing for all the rich services we have ahead, meetings with our beautiful vestry and staff, and finishing up our Lenten offerings—all of these I realize are extensions of God’s love in my life and in the life of this beloved community. Small resurrections for me offering glimpses of new life and hope even in the face of a profound loss. Thank you for that reminder-the most incarnate of gifts- profound as it is simple, necessary as it is often unnoticed.
So come home this Sunday to hear this love story again. It is a story of faith and trust, of humility and integrity, of courage and compassion, of truth and grace. Jesus walked this path of love for us. Come home this Sunday as we begin to make our way to and through the cross. Trust whether you can hear or make sense of the words spoken, someone next to you will, and that will be more than enough because we are on this path together, trusting in the ancient rhythm, liturgy, music and prayers to lead us down the road of God’s infinite love.
Be still and know that this is God: this love, this freedom, this life, this being. And when you are accepted, accept yourself. When you are forgiven, forgive yourself. When you are loved, love yourself.
May you never forget that you are loved.