Good Friday appears to be a complete dead-end.

According to the Gospel of Luke, on this terrible day,

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed. (Luke 23:44)

Good Friday appears to be the victory of darkness over light. Injustice has triumphed. Tragedy, sin, brokenness, and failure rule the day. In the last moments of his physical life, from the depths of suffering and anguish

Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’(Matthew 27:46)

There is no hope here. It is a stark bleak impossible dead-end. There is no way to make this pretty. There is no easy answer to the cross, no way to fix it, or make it less horrifying than the reality it presents. The “sun’s light” has “failed”.

And, if we are honest, we know it is true. The world can be a dark and terrifying place. We live in a world in which chemical weapons are a reality. We live in a world in which the $100 billion chocolate candy industry that is fueled by this Easter celebration, is supported by the labours of 2.1 million West African children who perform the dangerous and physically taxing work of harvesting cocoa without any wages. http://fortune.com/big-chocolate-child-labor/

We live in a world where 100,000 people in South Sudan will not go home from church today to a lovely Easter dinner, but will face the utter devastation of watching their children go hungry.

Make no mistake, the world is a desperate often senseless place. The quantity of human suffering and pain that afflict  much of the human community is incomprehensible and frequently seems unbearable.

If Good Friday is in fact the end of the story, then, as Paul said,

we are of all people most to be pitied.(I Corinthians 15:19)

But, this morning we affirm that there is more to say about life than violence, injustice, poverty, pain, and suffering. Today, we stand in the face of all the horror and declare our faith that the dark desperation of Good Friday is not the final word. The sun’s “failure” is an eclipse, not a permanent defeat.

Jesus embodied the power of love in life. And Easter declares that, in Jesus we can see that love is stronger than death.

Matt Johnson is the leader, of the British indie band “The The”. In 1989 when Matt was 28-years-old his, younger brother Eugene suddenly died. In struggling to come to grips with this tragedy in his family, Johnson wrote the song “Love Is Stronger Than Death,” which was released in 1993.

Love, love, love

Love, love, love

Me and my friend were walking
In the cold light of mourning
Tears may blind the eyes, but the soul is not deceived
In this world even winter ain’t what it seems

Here come the blue skies, here come the springtime
When the rivers run high and the tears run dry
When everything that dies shall rise

Love, love, love is stronger than death
Love, love, love is stronger than death

In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch
All the thoughts unuttered and all the feelings unexpressed
Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath
But awoke by grief, our spirits speak
How could you believe that the life within the seed
That grew arms that reached, and a heart that beat
And lips that smiled, and eyes that cried could ever die?

Here come the blue skies, here come the springtime
When the rivers run high and the tears run dry
When everything that dies shall rise

Love, love, love is stronger than death
Love, love, love is stronger than death
Love, love, love is stronger than death
Love, love, love is stronger than death

Shall rise
Shall rise
Shall rise
Shall rise

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdM8WXIo-Oo

Johnson could not have known at the time he wrote this song, how desperately he and his family were going to need this bold statement of faith.

Ten years after his brother Eugene’s death, Matt’s mother died. Matt was only 38 at the time. Then in April 2012 Matt’s older brother Andy Dog Johnson was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour; he died on 18 January 2016 at the age of 57. And yet Matt Johnson continued to sing:

Love, love, love is stronger than death
Love, love, love is stronger than death

Shall rise
Shall rise

There are no dead-ends. Life and love are stronger than death. Spring comes every year. Winter may seem endless at times, but it never triumphs.

Our problem is that we look for strength in all the wrong places.

We believe that strength lies with the religious officials of Jesus’ day who had the power to orchestrate the death of the troublesome preacher from Nazareth. We believe the strong ones are the Roman soldiers who carried out the death sentence nailing him to the cruel wood of a cross.

But, before he died, Jesus said,

Blessed are you who are poor,
   for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20)

The kingdom is not with those who have the ability to force their will on the world. The kingdom is not inhabited by those who are able to manipulate the levers of power and dominate the marginalized and powerless.

True strength lies in gentleness, in acts of love, in the heart of compassion, in the openness and sensitivity of a giving spirit.

Easter invites us to get in touch with the love that is stronger than death that resides within us. We seek to open to that deep true reality that, although there may be dark clouds, sunshine is always waiting to break through. We can experience within our own lives the reality of resurrection.

When we allow the pain to break our hearts open to the deep  beauty of life we find that enduring strength is born in our hearts. It is this strength that sustains us no matter how dark at times life may appear.

Easter calls us to stay in touch with the softness. Move to the gentleness. Open to compassion and follow wherever those deep realities of our true nature may lead.

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