Does God Care? April 9th
A Meditation for Holy Week
A few years ago the late Paul McNaughton, who had been the manager of one of Vancouver’s Starbucks coffee shops, was honored for his heroism in saving the life of one of his employees. In remembering Paul McNaughton one of the participants in the ceremonies pointed out that he lived his whole life in service for others and believed in the sanctity of all of life. His last act was one of laying down his life so another person might live. The speaker pointed out that this kind of act was rare in these days and that it was important to remember. The coffee shop which was closed for awhile has reopened for business as usual, but I’m sure that unusual sacrificial act of the former manager will be remembered for years to come. We will remember because it warms our hearts to know that there is love in the human soul. Deep within us there is concern for others. We do care.
We are often plagued with the questions Does God love us? Is God concerned about what happens to us in this world? Does God care? This week we begin what is known in the Christian church as Holy Week. The services through the week concluding with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil when we will remember the sacrificial acts of our Lord including his last supper with his disciples, his passion, his crucifixion, and finally his resurrection. This celebration does answer our questions with a resounding “Yes!” Nowhere else does God’s love appear so vividly. In the love Christ showed through these events we find the beginning of our life together as a Christian community , the source of our sacraments, the key to understanding the human story, and our hope for eternal life. God does love us. God is concerned. God does care. The action of Christ was the ultimate expression of his own words, “Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for another”
There is a great deal of power in the events surrounding the cross – it is primarily a power of love. H.H. Farmer, a known preacher in America, talks of an experience that he had early in his ministry that shows how that power of love can affect a person:
Many years ago as a young man I was preaching on the love of God. There was in the congregation an old polish Jew who had been converted to the Christian faith. He came to me afterward and said: “You have no right to speak of the love of God until you have seen, as I have seen, a massacre of Jews in Poland -until you have seen , as I have seen, the blood of your dearest friends running in the gutters on a gray winter morning.”
I asked him later how it was that, having seen such a massacre, he had come to believe in the love of God. The answer he gave in effect was that the Christian gospel first began to lay hold on him because it bade him to see God – the love of God- as it were, just where he was, just where he could not but always be in his thoughts and memories – in those bloodstained streets on that gray morning. It bade him to see the love of God, not somewhere else, but in the midst of just that sort of thing, in the blood and the agony of Calvary….and he went on to say something the sense of which I shall always remember though the words I have forgotten. He said, “As I looked at the man upon the cross, as I heard him pray, as I heard him cry in anguish, I knew I was at the point of final crisis and decision in my life; I knew I must make up my mind once and for all; and either take my stand beside him and share in his undefeated faith in God – committing myself to the transcendent clarity of a vision of one so infinitely purer than myself – or else fall finally in to the bottomless pit of bitterness, hatred, and unutterable despair.
Isn’t that always is our choice as we re-enact these passionate events year by year.