Dear sisters and brothers, on this holy night, God has gathered us around the tree of the cross. We enter deeper yet into the mystery of God’s love and salvation, which -by grace alone- is meant for us and our broken humanity.Last night we remembered Christ’s servanthood and new commandment, that we love one another as he has loved us. It is not really new but we keep forgetting it; – so we enter yet deeper in telling Christ’s passion.
The passion of Christ is a story of conflict, of dark and of light. God’s love for humanity is brought out in the darkest darkness of our broken humanity to crush the power of death and evil. God has called us around the tree of the cross to see and grasp how death is transformed into life.
When we hear the story told -on Good Friday always according to John-, it is but impossible not to hear it as if God has abandoned God’s own people, the Jews; not to hear it, as if God has turned away disappointed, rejected, and made the church instead God’s people, a new covenant, superseding the old. Jesus, the first Christian, not really Jewish.
John in his telling uses “the Jews” in summary manner to depict Jesus’ opponents. The other gospels do not do that.
We have grown weary of “the…,” jews, muslims, blacks, immigrants. It hurts when I say it.
We peer deep down into our own darkness, to where our designations of “the…” have brought our brothers and sisters, and us.
The tree of the cross in this country not too long ago was the lynching tree. Not too long ago internment camps. Concentration camps and gas chambers where I come from. Human inventiveness seems endless.
Our darkness has messed us up, deeply, to this day.
We give all the more thanks, from the depths of our being, for reconciliation. For love and forgiveness from our brothers and sisters when we could not hope for it.
We give thanks for our church which has confessed the sinful consequences calling our brothers and sisters “the..,” – even as on our path of learning we still can stumble.
We give thanks for new sensitivity and care in choosing words and reshaping the ways we find our own identities, not by denying other’s rights or humanity but by integrating into God’s intended beauty and justice for this world.
Let us now pour our gratitude into the hearing of Christ’s passion,
and our hearts’ devotion onto the cross – where Jesus has loved us, God’s grace does not give up on us, and God’s faithfulness never ends.