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Experience It Again

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Holy Tuesday April 12, 2022: What has God to do with suffering ? by the Very Rev Dr Amy D Welin

Apr 12, 2022

The work of holy week is to walk the way of the cross with Jesus. After two years of Coronatide, as we watch war from afar, how does that feel? To me, the cross is both a real terror and the religious symbol that makes the most sense. Jurgen Moltmann insists in The Crucified God that suffering is not a problem demanding resolution. God loves us because God is Love. God suffers when the Beloved suffers. Suffering is inherent within the divine identity of Love. God is Love, and therefore suffering is the essential work of the Trinity in solidarity with fragile and finite humanity. God does not send suffering. God endures it along with us.

We hear Isaiah intimate that his prophetic message is too important to be shared only with Israel, and so will be given also to the nations. How shocking it is that the Holy One is inviting the gentile riffraff into the Covenant of Love.

We hear Paul challenge the Corinthians (and us) about their irrelevant self-understanding as smart and sophisticated people. If God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength, everything we have anticipated in our spiritual lives is turned upside down by the cross of Christ.

The Gospel of John is theologically rich in its use of irony and paradox to illuminate the divine nature of Jesus and his glorification through death. Mocked by Pilate and the imperial guard as a “king,” Jesus is nonetheless divine and noble, the only one who really knows what is going on in this gospel account. Ultimately, his resurrection defeats the power of the Empire to inflict death. His death is the gate to human salvation and eternal life.

The practical elements of these scriptures are also rich. the blessing is for all. Success is not the measure. Death is not the last word.

What we expect – the way a holy life works, what victory looks like, who merits inclusion –  is all upended in the reign of God.

We hear this evening in Jesus’ teaching his own emotional and spiritual struggle with his mortality: unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains but a single grain. . . those who love their life will lose it. And then he rushes out and disappears.

The Messiah may be preaching to himself as well as his followers.

The visiting Greeks may never have spoken with Jesus, although the issue of “seeing” in GJohn is more a spiritual reality than a practical one. In our holy week journey, what do we need to “see” that we have not yet perceived?

How has life unfolded for you over the last couple of years/weeks/days?

Where have you retrospectively seen God in this arduous journey?

For what strange blessing –  or for what unexpected suffering –  can you find gratitude?

Through what cross –  what foolishness –  what stumbling block  –  has God revealed new life to you?

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