Jer. 17:5-10, 14-17; Phil. 4:1-13; John 12:27-36
Notre Dame Cathedral burns. Damaged. But still standing. Many of us were deeply moved as we watched, and relieved to find out the organ is intact, much of the structure, some windows, etc.
Dan Rather put it well: “Why has the burning of Notre Dame moved so many? Because we believe in beauty, majesty, faith, art, history, and the human expressions thereof. We recognize in this cathedral our common humanity. A scar now emerges in our connection to our past, our future, and each other.”
And yet I grieve that the 3 burning black churches in Louisiana recently did not get nearly the news coverage. And why? One struck at the beauty and majesty that we know humanity can achieve. The other highlights the hideous hate crime of one, but the racial underbelly of our culture. We turn from images of our own destructiveness and as we bury it, it only serves to emerge as another layer to our racist past/present.
I think coming to terms with our past and God’s new future that he intends for us remains elusive.
In John’s gospel, Jesus cries out, “And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” Then later: “Now is the judgment of this world…And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Judgment is promised.
And yet today the heart of the Good News comes.
Here we are in Holy Week, but already seeping through the cracks of the story are very powerful indicators of God’s GOOD NEWS. Despite our shortcomings, it appears that by being washed in the blood of the lamb, we will be drawn into favor with God. And not just us….but all people.
In today’s story we discover that hope is present. Love will reign. And God’s broad net of inclusive love will touch us all, and wipe away our tears. That goes for Judas. That goes for the white terrorist in Louisiana. That goes for all people as we seek to move past the racial injustices of our land.
In Philippians we hear one of Paul’s famous exhortations: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice…. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
And so here we are in Holy Week. And we turn to the heart of the story to deeply listen for God’s Word to us again. This week is ALL ABOUT listening to the Spirit, and trying to not listen to what society is telling us. That is why Paul insists, “guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This is a battle! Coming to know and understand God’s “Yes’s” in a world of “No’s” is not easy.
Moving in that direction is a challenge. But with the power of God’s YES, we too can overcome hatred, heartbreak, cynicism, and injustice everywhere. We can witness to our common humanity, and experience the power of God drawing us together into a New Body.