Sacred Soil

A Day of Awe
March 29, 2013, 7:00 pm
Filed under: Sermons

Good Friday

Isaiah 52:13—53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 10:16–25
John 18:1—19:42

I want to propose to you that this day is a day far more about awe than judgment.


Not the cute kind of awe that we save for sentimental moments, but the heart wrenching, gut clenching awe of mystery and honor.

I propose this, because I believe it is difficult to bear this story, to really hear this story, without a profound sense of awe. That the one who is God, became so fully and utterly human. That on this day, the one who is God, was so profoundly wounded, wounded to the point of death—

I propose that this is a day of awe because of the stories of men like Jose. Jose is a former gang member. It’s a story told by Father Greg Boyle, who runs Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Jose is a part of their substance abuse team. A man in recovery. He’s been a heroine addict, a gang member, and is heavily tattooed. But in his work now, he regularly finds himself standing in front of a room of 600 social workers and…

On one occasion, he says very offhandedly: “You know, I guess you could say that my mom and me, we didn’t get along so good. I guess I was six when she looked at me and she said, ‘Why don’t you just kill yourself? You’re such a burden to me.'” Well, the whole audience gasped, and then he said, “It sounds way worser in Spanish.”

Then he tells the audience “My mom beat me every single day. In fact, I had to wear three T-shirts to school every day.” And then he kind of loses the battle with his own tears a little bit and he says: “I wore three T-shirts well into my adult years, because I was ashamed of my wounds. I didn’t want anybody to see them. But now my wounds are my friends. I welcome my wounds. I run my fingers over my wounds.”

Then he looks at this crowd and he says, “How can I help the wounded if I don’t welcome my own wounds?” And awe came upon everyone because we’re so inclined to kind of judge this kid who, you know, went to prison, is tattooed and is a gang member and homeless and heroine addict and the list goes on.

But in its telling, Jose’s story becomes intimate. In a sense, it become our own, as our own woundedness joins his, and we sit in awe of all that this young man has born. Wondering, how we could possibly do the same? Most of us would likely say, we could not bear it. And so we sit in awe.

Often we think of this day, Good Friday, as a day of judgment. A day of judgment on ourselves and others, as we sit in the stew of our sinfulness and the pain we cause ourselves and others. And perhaps there is a moment for this. Indeed, I think there probably is. There are those moments that we must get angry, that we must name what is wrong, what is hurtful, what is painful, and destructive. Those moments where we must attempt to name what is right—so that good news may be heard, that a different way may be made known.

But first, first, I think we must sit in awe. In awe of the wounds we bear. In awe of the wounds others bear. In awe of the wounds our very human Christ bore. To touch them, to know them, to make friends with them. To run our fingers over these wounds.

This is not so that we can feel guilty. Not so that we feel the stifling weight of shame. But so that, perhaps we might be see the fullness and humanity of the wounded. Of ourselves. So that we might see the fullness and humanity this Christ, this Christ who bore our wounds, bore the wound of Jose, the wounds of all those we might judge.

In this moment, on this Good Friday, we are invited to stand in awe of burdens we have all carried, rather than to judge how they have been carried. Because this, this is precisely, what our own God did.

We begin in awe, because in so doing we join in the mystery. The honor. And perhaps the healing. In awe we do not set ourselves apart, dividing the good from the bad. In awe, we behold the enormity of the mutual burden we bear, beholding our own wounds, as we embrace the wounds of the other. The woundedness of our very own God.

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