...The reason the crucifixion speaks to us has little to do with theory, but everything to do with reality. It is C. S. Lewis who remarked in one of his books that pain and suffering are probably among the most real elements of our lives. All of us who at one time or another have experienced pain, death, and suffering know this to be true. Even when our minds are in denial, our hearts, our guts, and even our very bones and flesh know the truths of pain, death, and suffering.Good stuff, Richard. Thanks.
It was real that Jesus died for the simple reason that good people who challenge the evils of their day often die. It was real that love is often crucified by our anxieties, lust for power, and hunger to be in control. It remains real that God in Christ Jesus speaks to us most often when we are out of intellectual answers, facing death of one kind or another, and bereft of the Spirit.
That is the Good News of Good Friday, no matter what we theorize about Jesus and the sins of the world. And who’s right, be it the Bishop of Durham, the Dean of St. Alban’s, or a young upstart like me? Perhaps those of us who wear the fancy clothes and write with fancy prose should listen more to the mothers of lost children. Perhaps we should dispense with the sometimes arrogant desire to explain everything and embrace the crosses of our lives and the lives of others as Jesus did: with humility, grace, and love. Perhaps it is time to stop pursuing our desire to be God, and let God pursue us, even into our darkest hours, where hope seems dead and love is crucified.
And only then, do we have a shot at true understanding. Understanding that will not require explanation. But understanding that will emerge from the very heart of life and death itself, from the foundations of being, from that which stands as alpha and omega, from the One who is our beginning and end and who holds our lives so lovingly, so tenderly, so absolutely, that our cross may not mark an end, but a new beginning.
We held a dialogue sermon tonight, which led to very similar conclusions. These are primarily matters of the heart, not the head.