Saturday, April 7, 2012
A Good Friday, Easter Saturday Vigil, message
Yesterday, I thought about writing a Good Friday message. But the Lord was not in favor so it did not happen. Then this morning in my devotions, following the Liturgical tradition in my church which designates Psalm 130 as one of the readings for the Saturday vigil, the following verse triggered an instruction from the Lord to write a brief message. " If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are to be feared". Psalm 130: 3-4 NIV In very simple terms this is what Good Friday is all about. This message of forgiveness of sins, wrought on the Cross of Calvary by a loving God, who in Christ Jesus - what a glorious mystery - substituted Himself, as the penalty for the sins of all mankind. Hence the response of the very mystified Charles Wesley in writing one of the great hymns of the church: " And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour's blood? Died he for me, who caused his pain? For me, who him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Just last night, I had reason to send the following text message to someone who is literally " under the gun". " The angels of the Lord encampeth around those that fear him". Psalm 34:9 But here we have an even more important reason why we should fear God. Not only because we need protection from evil, and who does not, but because we all need forgiveness of sins, as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And t hat is not just a verse in the Bible, but a fact written on the hearts of all mankind by the Spirit of God. So let us begin to fear God this very day whether we are committed believers or not, as this is an opportunity that we should not pass. This then is the big news of this weekend. This has been the big news since two thousand years ago. This has been the only worthwhile news for all mankind. Even as we struggle in Jamaica to process the horror and recent revelation - in the kind of graphic detail that would offend even the most callous heart - of 7000 of our children being sexually abused in the past four years. Even as they struggle in Syria to overcome the horrors of a state turned against its people, as was the case in Libya, and to a lesser extent in Egypt recently. Even as we try to understand the unexplained tragedies visited on many countries throughout history: Rwanda, Jews in Nazi Germany, famine in Somalia, death in Siberia in Russia, the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade of my forefathers, the "killing fields in Cambodia", the genocide occasioned by years of abortions, the ravaging of Sub-Sahara Africa by AIDS, and the countless other personal and national tragedies during the life of mankind. According to the old negro spiritual, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord"?...we all should have an interest in the Saviour's Blood. We should all tremble. Whether we be politicians who have been responsible for much of the mayhem in my country and others! Whether we be business persons who have used our privileged status in the society to accumulate riches for ourselves and our families and left others " pick up the crumbs" and so suffer under the weight of poverty all of their lives! Whether we be professionals who have forgotten those who suffered much to enable us to achieve our " success' in life! Whether we be intellectuals who are so " bright" and " brilliant", that we have forgotten to give God the praise for waking us up each morning! Whether we be " good " Christians who have been so caught up with praising God and " keeping church" that we have had no time to " give one of these the least of society" a cup of cold water. No wonder Marion Williams whose video, " Were you there when they crucified my Lord", I watched, in a deep voice, in the midst of talking about , " causing me to tremble, exclaimed, " I can't stand too much of this song". I pray God that we will all learn to tremble - with holy fear - at the knowledge that, " If God kept a record of sins", no one could stand. Not one single solitary human being. I pray God that the news that God Himself in Christ Jesus on the Cross, died, once and for all, for your sins and mine, on Good Friday, will cause us to tremble. And the news tomorrow will be even better. Amen.