Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Cross at the Center of History


Homily delivered by the Reverend Rob Hartley at the North Augusta Community Lenten Service, April 10, 2019

Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)
5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

        On Good Friday, this church family will gather in this place, as many of you will do in your churches.  We will read the passion narrative from John’s Gospel, and we will also read this beautifully moving passage from Philippians.  It is called the Christ Hymn because it takes us the central act of Salvation History, which is the Cross of Christ.    
        Historians, sociologists, or anthropologists look at the broad sweep of human history and see it as events stitched together, often as a result of circumstances, human effort, or just chance, all contributing to bring humanity to where it is today.  But how about us Christians? How do we view history? From what perspective?  Hopefully, we view it from God’s perspective?
        Human history is wildly chaotic and messy for sure, but we know that God’s plan is being played out in spite of you and me.  We know that God’s providential and redemptive hand has been upon human history from the beginning.   He gives us one of His first hints to this in Genesis 3 after the couple falls into sin and rebellion. Gao says they will someday Crush Satan’s head; in other words, they will have victory over the powers of darkness that have now come to inhabit creation and the human heart.  God has overlaid human history with Salvation History. We know that this eventual and inevitable victory belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ for it says in Scripture, “In the fullness of time, Christ came to die for us… and as Paul puts it this morning in Philippians, “Christ being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
        So, as surely as Creation has a beginning and an end, it has a center, which is the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the climax of God’s great redemptive plan.  And this amazing cosmic event is what we are preparing for this Lent.  Jesus has redeemed us; we have been rescued from ourselves, which is why Paul writes this morning- “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!  Amen.

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