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Church News Volume 3, Issue 6

Dear friends,

The month of March is an exciting one for those of us who follow the Christian story. With Easter Day coming at the end of the month we shall be following the story of Jesus through the events of Holy Week in our church services.

The Christian story, from the earliest days, has seemed foolish to those who are outside. St. Paul tells us "To the outsider it is a stumbling block and a folly."

It is probably true that amongst those who come to church there is an uneasy feeling about a God who allows Himself to be killed by His creation. The cross does not fit into our ordinary ideas of success and achievement. Palm Sunday (24th March), the paradox is emphasised quite blatantly as we sing "Ride on, ride on in majesty" and present Christ's entry into Jerusalem as a triumphant procession with palm crosses in our hands. "All glory laud and honour" we sing. But what glory and honour knowing that they intended to put Him to death?

The outsider is incredulous "why it is more like a condemned prisoner being led to the scaffold than a king welcomed in triumph" folly indeed!

There is of course the explanation so often given about Palm Sunday and the events of Holy Week, that the crowd were fickle - shouting "hosanna" on Sunday and the "crucify" on Friday. But the Church has not continued to celebrate Palm Sunday down the centuries to remember the fickleness of the crowd.

The Church is quite clear and blunt - the majesty and the glory and the honour are not a fleeting interlude before the agony of the cross. And it was because the first Christians knew the Cross as a triumph, that St. Paul could write about many seeing it as a stumbling-block and as foolishness.

How right is St. Paul when he says that "what appears to be God's folly is wiser than men's wisdom; what appears to be God's weakness is stronger than man's power" God's wisdom is to know that force only suppresses the human soul for a time; that fear may produce a grudging obedience, but at sometime that obedience will cease - tyrannical power will, and does, breed rebellion to the end.

Love is all powerful; love captivates the human heart and holds us fast. What astounding things humans will do for love! And even for undeserved and undeserving love. How fickle we are with God - and yet He still loves on and on.

The triumph of the Cross is this : here was a man who overcame all the instincts of self-regard, self-preservation, pride. The man who was beaten, spat upon, humiliated and finally done to death in a cruel and barbarous way. The man who said that His kingdom was not of this world. Someone whose conquest was of the human heart; someone who knew that the only way to win human beings was to love them - and who loved them no matter what happened and whet they did.

The Cross is the triumph of pure love over everything and everyone. Those who cannot see this triumph will regards the whole episode as so much folly, as an enigma, as a dreadful, cruel and sad error. But those who do see the triumph will find in the Cross the true and real power of God.

Rev'd Ian M. Finn

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Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011