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A reflection for Tuesday in Holy Week, April 2020
The Reverend Canon Catherine Ascah
St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Smiths Falls
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

“A six-pointed star, a crescent moon, a lotus – the symbols of other religions suggest beauty and
light. The symbol of Christianity is an instrument of death. It suggest, as the very least, hope.”
Buechner, Frederick. “Cross.” Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith Harper SanFrancisco, 2004, p.70

And the people are asking: “Where is God? Here in this pandemic? Here in this plague? Where is God?”

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, tells us where we can find God, and how we might know God: he points us to the cross.

The cross — if your idea of an all powerful God is one who sends down lightning bolts and fixes your problems by smiting your enemies — proves to be problematic. Because it’s hard to see that kind of God suffering to death on the cross.

The sign-seeking religious leadership in Jerusalem of the first century and the wisdom-desiring Gentiles of Corinth couldn’t see the power of God in a crucified Jesus because they didn’t think that was how God was supposed to be.

Like them, we can have our own preconceived ideas of how God should be, how God should act. We demand signs and we demand wisdom, but only those signs we deem legitimate; only that wisdom we can grasp and control.

God, however, turns out to be unavailable whenever we seek God as a model deity of our own ideology and our own making. The Lord our God will not be limited or domesticated into doing or acting as we deem it fit for God to do or act.

The cross reveals the power of God who will take suffering and death, and turn it into new life. The cross shows us a God both utterly free of human constraints, and utterly engaged in our humanity. It shows us a God so deeply and lovingly involved in our lives that God will suffer the worst we have to throw at each other. Jesus on the cross shows us a God who gives hope and courage to those of us who are hanging on by our fingernails and getting short of breath.

It also shows us a God who pours mercy and forgiveness on those of us watching below.

In Jesus on the cross, God refused to be removed from the injustice and the pain that we either experience or that we inflict. The power of God is shown by God’s willing self-emptying into our humanity, thereby showing us where we might find the Divine: right here in the midst of us.

(image credit: Forever in Hope by Leah Hicks, used with permission)