“This is what I have done for you, what will you do for me?” This was the inscription accompanying a painting of Jesus on the cross that compelled 18th century church reformer Nicolaus Zinzendorf to fall to his knees. A German bishop and mission leader of the Moravian Church, Zinzendorf was a product of Lutheran pietism and his eventual life’s work produced an influence on the protestant church that runs deep. And this is how he responded to the image of Jesus on the cross and the challenge of its inscription: “I have loved Him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for Him. From now on I will do whatever He leads me to do.”
Today is the day we arrive at the cross and its presence is much more than symbolic. It joins us to God’s very self in death. And it is hard to look at. We can agree, death is hardly ever something good. And yet, that’s exactly what we call today, “Good.”
This week, the trial of the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd last year has included the testimony of many who were present to witness the crime and the end of Mr. Floyd’s life. To listen to their stories is heartbreaking and infuriating all over again. One young witness, only 17 at the time, spoke of the regret she has continuously experienced, wondering if there wasn’t more she could have done to stop the police from taking Mr. Floyd’s life that day. Of course, there wasn’t. She held no power to do more than record the incident on her phone. And to tell her story on the witness stand was a remarkably brave response to the injustice of Mr. Floyd’s death and the countless other similarly senseless deaths that have occurred and still continue to do so.
George Floyd was not a savior. Like every other one of us, he had his gifts and he had his flaws. Also like every other one of us, he was a beloved child of God. God also loves Derek Chauvin, the officer being tried for George Floyd’s death. To believe that God’s love is limited to one or the other in this case, would be to lose sight of what Jesus has done and what we remember today.
Today we arrive at the cross. And we too have to confront our regrets. 300 years ago, this reality brought one church bishop to his knees. But, when he stood back up again, the world began to change. What regrets are you holding on to today? What change might you be able to create once you let go and stand back up again?
George Floyd’s story didn’t end on the street at 38th and Chicago, people around the world are committed to making sure that is the case by standing back up again. And, with God’s help, the world is going to change.
Jesus’ story doesn’t end on this cross, and neither does yours. This is what is good about today.
May God’s peace find you this day. -Pastor Peter
Let us pray…
Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself. Grant that we, who have fallen to our knees in regret, find mercy in him. Give us the strength to stand back up again and, together with the Spirit, help us change the world. Amen.