Friday, April 18, 2014

The Holiest Night

Before the joy of Easter comes the cross.

My faith, shaped by the Lutheran tradition, teaches me that it is on the cross that we encounter God's most profound revelation of the divine essence.

It is not through rising in glory that God's loving nature finds its most perfect expression, but rather through suffering the most humiliating and agonizing of punishments despite His perfect innocence.

It is not through defeating death that Jesus' divine nature shines forth most profoundly, but through facing it.

It is not in seeing the empty tomb that we witness the deepest truth about God. It is, rather, in seeing the incarnate God accept the very worst that humanity can do, endure the most profound rejection, and love us still. Love us with a radical, unflagging love.

In the cross we see God step into the place of debasement, the place of despair, the place where human beings are treated like something worse than things--step into that place and say, "Here I stand."

And in that moment, every scapegoat ceases to be a a sacrifice to the gods and becomes instead what we do to God. "What you do to the least of these, you do to me." On the cross we see just what that means.

In that moment, our ultimate rejection of love discovers the meaning of a love that reaches across the gap of rejection and says, "Not even this can separate us."

In that moment, our worst afflictions become moments of solidarity with the very foundation of reality. When we feel most cut off from the good, when despair and loneliness and anguish seem to consume our souls, we discover that God is there--and not just there, but there at His most human, at the point at which the divine enters most fully into the world.

By an act of stunning audacity, God turns the universe on its head, and finds a way to be most fully present to us in that space where God is felt to be most fully absent.

The empty tomb is the effect, the consequence. The cross is the thing itself.

Today is Good Friday, Silent Friday, Black Friday. Today Christians turn their thoughts to this staggering thing.

May this holiest night rip through the veils of the ordinary and move you to wonder.    


  1. I hope you had a blessed Easter!

    I finally finished God's Final Victory last night, and I was practically cheering by the end. Thank you so much for writing that book - truly incredible! I'll be thinking about it for a long time to come, I'm sure.