Fr. Steve Teague, Rector

Passion Sunday Reflection


Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Palm Sunday

You already know what gripes me about Holy Week – low church attendance. So I won’t mention that. I’m also bothered by how little we focus and reflect on the meaning of the cross, me included. It’s not for lack of trying. The cross is an enigma and a mystery. We cannot explain it – and through the years my understanding has evolved.

Here’s what I have come to. God does not need Jesus’ death to forgive, get us off a hook, or love and save us. God is out to get us all right, and yes, we do fail and mess up. The cross shows us God isn’t out to punish or condemn Jesus to save us from what we deserve. The cross is where God’s heart meets Jesus’ obedience and humility to embrace, heal and reconcile us. Does God need blood, death or violence to save us? Be careful! I think to say yes is to take God’s name in vain. Jesus didn’t come to change God’s mind about us – but our minds and hearts about God. It’s God’s love – unknown by too many, now known to you.

In the cross God defeats our violence and evil by bearing and absorbing them, forgiving and loving us. To think otherwise creates false images of God. That’s idolatry – whether we worship the idol or run from it.

The cross reveals God is with us, in suffering and death. Here God confronts his last enemy and ours. It’s as my friend Fred Schmidt says, “God has skin in this game.” And more – God gives everything for us so we’ll know, even the divine life. God comes as Emmanuel, fully “with us” in Jesus. And that means when you feel lost, confused, anxious, abandoned; when you face death, feel the intensity of sin and failure – God is there, too. God has skin in this game. It’s always been about how much God loves us, and through suffering and death to let us know. Jesus comes to love us as we are, and love us enough to not let us stay as we are – because so much better awaits us. It’s a mystery beyond words to explain – yet has a power to change, raise up and transform everything. So just receive it, and let God absorb you into such love – a love we’ll never fully know on this side.