From the Joy of Christmas to the Wonder of Epiphany we are called on a journey to the Glory of the Cross. Wait, did I read that correctly? The Glory of the Cross? One commentator described it like this: “He allows soldiers to march him through the city streets on the Via Dolorosa, shouldering his crossbar, while blood drips from his butchered back. He permits these same executioners to strip him naked, shove him to the ground, and pin him to wood with their tools of torture. He accepts the spit and the insults without calling on his Father to dispatch twelve legions of angels (Mt 26:53)” (Amos, Concordia Commentary, Reed Lessing). And yet St. Paul writes: His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9). We are Called to the Cross not only for our salvation but as a pattern for life in our broken world.
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Deliver Us From Evil
Sunday, March 6 – The existence of a supernatural personal evil we call Satan or the devil is evident to the eyes of faith in the struggle of the human race to achieve any sort of consistent and equitable measure of goodness for all. Across the pages of history human selfishness, grasping for power, and the inability to fear, love and trust in God has led to untold suffering — all aggravated by the presence of the devil goading us ever farther away from the truth that is ours in Jesus. We are Called to the Cross to witness and experience the defeat of Satan. At the cross we receive the power of Christ to silence the temptations that come into our lives.
Gathered by Jesus
March 13 – You only need to see it once to understand Jesus’ sadness in our lesson for today. A firefighter, after battling a raging wildfire walks through the burned out forest and finds a mother bird, her feathers blackened by soot and ashes but under her dead body a brood of chicks that come scurrying out alive and well. Jesus, the Son of God, spreads his arms over us on the cross and calls us closer and be saved from the deadly fire of God’s judgment that will come at the end of time. Today we raise our voices and say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
March 20 – In the first of his 95 Theses that precipitated the Reformation in 1517, Martin Luther wrote: all of life is repentance. Sometimes we imagine that some people are more sinful than we are. Lent is a season of reflection on our own daily, desperate need for forgiveness. Repentance is continuously turning back toward God to discover that his grace poured out on the cross through Jesus calls us together to be his redeemed people who produce the fruit of repentance: love for God and love for one another.
Celebrate and Be Glad!
March 27 – Within the community of faith we are like a family bound together to live in our Father’s house enjoying the privileges and blessings of his abundance. But there is a constant danger. Some want to rebel and run away. Others stay put but begrudgingly do their duty expecting to be rewarded. The cross calls rebels to return and self-righteous hypocrites to rejoice in the Father’s boundless grace. The truth is that all are invited to celebrate the new life that Jesus has secured for us.
Broken or Crushed?
April 3 – The rebellious older son from last week’s parable (Luke 15) refuses to come in and join the celebration of the lost who have been found. In a dramatic confrontation Jesus describes the outcome of their self-righteous stubbornness. The owner of the vineyard “will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” Jesus calls himself “the stone the builders rejected.” You can fall on him and be broken to pieces like the younger son for whom the father welcomed home with lavish love. Or Jesus’ judgment can fall on you and you will be crushed by it. Broken or Crushed? Jesus calls us to the cross where he was crushed for our sins.
Blessed is the King!
April 10 – The whole creation declares the glory of God. At the cross the pinnacle of God’s glory is revealed in Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. As enters Jerusalem for the final time before his crucifixion the crowds declare his praise and if they did not the stones themselves would cry out. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” And what a King he is! He establishes peace in heaven between us and our God. We receive the glory he earned for us.