Tuesday, April 16th
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for April 16th: Psalm 71:1-14; Isaiah 49:1-7; John 12:20-36; and 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
It was a terrible thing to watch Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral burning yesterday. Work on the church began in 1163 and took over a century to complete, and it remained an active house of God until yesterday. We pray that her life of worship will return as soon as possible. And we pray for the people the world over who grieve this terrible loss.
We will print your replies to the question of what church means to you in our Easter Sunday bulletin. Your answers speak to the living faith of this community that happens to gather in the building at 41 Main Street. The building, I think we all know, is not the church, but the building is a sanctuary where we can feel closer to Christ. It is the place that allows the community of the church to assemble. It is the place we often associate with our worship, and with those times we gather together before God in joy, grief or to mark a milestone in our lives. The church building is the house of our spiritual family.
The building is so intricately woven into the fabric of our faith lives that it becomes a part of them. It is the place where we can come and pray with the Psalmist: “O God, do not be far from me.” Jesus is not confined by place, but place can help us feel the special closeness of God.
When you look front and center in our church building, there hangs the cross. It almost looks to me like it is surrounded by the outline of a heart drawn by the contours of the pipe organ. The cross captures our attention and it directs our faith. It doesn’t linger on the theme of death; it testifies to Jesus’ perfect love no matter the cost.
As Paul writes in today’s passage: “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” When Jesus is nailed to its wood, He doesn’t die only for the faithful. Thank God. Rather, He dies even for the ones who are torturing Him to death. This may seem ludicrous to our minds, but it’s not our minds that matter.
The cross is Jesus’ final and perfect revelation to us. Christ’s love is not dependent on our merits. Christ’s love is of the very nature of God. Jesus can do nothing less than love. It fulfills the prophecy of Duetero-Isaiah: “‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’”
This unreasonable love is the mystery we ponder during Holy Week. May we all make the time to be with Christ, alone or together in the places that our faith make holy as we meditate upon the “foolishness” of the cross.
Faith, love and chitchat.
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