Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent, 2:30pm service for Atlantic Ministry of the Deafadmin | 26 February 2012
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem”
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem,” Jesus tells his disciples and us. And he tells them and us exactly what it means for him to go up to Jerusalem.
Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all thigs that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again.
He speaks of terrible things which we do, terrible things which our hearts and minds in disarray think and do towards one another and ourselves, terrible thoughts and words and deeds which, ultimately, we do or try to do to God. In short; Christ speaks about his passion. It is not a dream. It is the deeper reality of the love of God which wills to pass through our loves in disarray and disorder so as to set our loves in order.
Christ speaks to us about the depth of God’s love for us. “But they understood none of these things.” It complements Paul’s phrase about how we “see in a glass darkly”. We understand so little. These things were hid from them and, in a way, they are hid from us. We can’t understand except through the journey of Lent.
Oh all ye, who passe by, whose eyes and minde
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blinde;
To me, who took eyes that I might you finde:
Was ever grief like mine?
(George Herbert, The Sacrifice, 1633)
So the poet, George Herbert, drawing upon the words of Isaiah and the Lamentations of Jeremiah, confronts us with the mystery of Lent, the mystery of human redemption. Christ “took eyes”, became man that he might find you and me, even in our blindness, so that we might see and be changed by what we see.
We have to go with Christ. We have to journey with love so that love can set us right. It is a life-long journey. It is simply concentrated for us in the pilgrimage of Lent. It is the way of the cross.
The problem is that we are blind. We both cannot and will not see what is set before us and what is proclaimed in our midst. There is the ignorance and the arrogance of our self-righteousness; there is the pettiness of our envyings and resentments; there are the posturings of our self-assurances and vanity, and so on and so on. We are blind to ourselves and to God. We do not understand.
Yet to know our blindness is to begin to see and to begin to understand. At the very least, it might signal an openness to the healing mercy and love of God. Christ does not simply pass us by. He comes to be with us. He would have us journey with him so that we might indeed see and hear and understand. That, too, is part of the Gospel. Son of David, have mercy on me.” Lent would teach us to avail ourselves of the only mercy there is, the mercy of God towards us. Lent is but one long prayer for mercy: Lord have mercy upon us.
You see, if love is motion towards another and if our motions of love are altogether compromised and, ultimately, deadly and destructive, then surely we need, totally and absolutely, the love of God. The motion of this perfect love of God towards us is what is given to set our loves in order. There can be no love apart from the love of God.
Jesus wants us to see and understand this. He wants us to enter into his project of redeeming and perfecting love. It means the pilgrimage of Lent with its disciplines and devotions. For such things are the lessons of love. They teach us an understanding of love. For love is not blind – at least, not the love of God – and that is the love which makes all other loves lovely without which they are not only blind but deadly.
Lent is the pilgrimage of love. It is the season of mercy. We are called to repentance for without that we cannot turn to God. It is through repentance and prayer, through discipline and devotion, that we enter into the perfecting ways of love. We live in the mercies of God’s love towards us. The love of God is made visible to us in the drama of Christ’s going up to Jerusalem. He goes up to set our lives in order. Will we go with him? Or will we persist in our blindness and folly?
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem”
Fr. David Curry
AMD Service of the Deaf
February 26th, 2012