03-06-16 The Last Words of Christ (part 1)

I dunno whether you’d say March came in like a lamb or a lion, but it’s pretty warm at the moment.  We just had snow last week, and now I’m overly warm in just my shirtsleeves.  I’m not going to go so far as to complain, per se, but I’d kinda like a smoother transition from winter to summer.  Then again, I may just be dreading that time change coming up this weekend, so don’t listen to me...

This week, we had a great day here at First Covenant.  Not only did we get to talk about some truly fun stuff in Sunday School (check out the website if you’d ever like to look at the notes), but we also had a wonderful time of worship, culminating in eating the Lord’s Supper together.  We then continued that same concept of “worship through a meal” by eating lunch together as a church family after the service in our first “brown bag-it” lunch.  It’s kind of a test flight -- we’re considering opening the Fellowship Hall on that first Sunday of every month for people just to bring in food from home, a soup, a sandwich, fast food, whatever, and take the time to sit down for a family meal together.  We realize that making food for a big potluck can be daunting sometimes (though we’ll still have plenty of those), and that going out to a restaurant can get expensive (though people still like to do that), so we figured this would be a workable alternative once a month.  Plan on joining us on that first Sunday of April and let us know what you think!

In our message, we began our countdown to Resurrection Sunday by beginning a series on the last words that Christ spoke on the cross.  In this first sermon, we looked at how He responded to all of the hatred all around Him -- hatred for the Romans, hatred for the Zealots, hatred from the Temple rulers, hatred from the pagan soldiers, hatred from other crucified men, etc.  All of this hatred, directed toward so many people, embittering so many others... to which an exhausted Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing...” (Luke 23:34).  He didn’t return hatred for hatred, anger for anger -- instead, He knew that the root of all of that stress and vitriol came from a broken ignorance within the human heart.  We literally don’t know what we’re doing, so we lash out with our darkest emotions to try to make all of the world’s darkness just go away.  But that never, ever works -- all it does is make us part of that darkness, and we add to the total dimming of the world.

No, what we need is compassion.  That’s the proper response to hatred, to anger, to violence, to corruption.  When beset by people who didn’t care whom they hurt, Jesus made sure that His mother was cared for by His cousin John (see John 19:26-27).  When berated by one thief and defended by another, Jesus promised a place in paradise to a man who fearfully knew that the end of his life was drawing near (see Luke 23:39-43).

Today, we’re surrounded by a lot of emotionalism, a lot of anger, a lot of harsh and demeaning talk -- even from our leaders in Washington (even from our leaders in the church).  But what’s the Christlike way for us to respond to all of that, do you think?  With fear?  With stress?  With anger?  With even more hateful speech?  Or with loving compassion that recognizes that all of that comes from a broken ignorance within the human heart?