March 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends in Christ,

As Lent approaches, we turn our eyes to the cross. In 1 Cor 1:18, the apostle Paul writes: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

The cross, Paul tells us, represents the power of God. The world we live in is full of images of power. There is the power of the boxer who with the thrust of his arm can bring a mighty man to his knees. There is the power of a Hitler who by the force of his charisma and the impact of his rhetoric can whip a nation into compliance to a shocking agenda. There is the power of the nuclear reactor that can light a major city or, in the event of a meltdown, destroy the environment around it for years to come. There is the power the United States presidency. The president speaks and armies are deployed, nations shift, economics rise and fall. Earthly power comes in all forms.

Anyone who has read the gospels knows that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John draw an extraordinary portrait of the power of Jesus Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches with an authority that transcends the wisdom of the scribes and the Pharises, and even Moses. In the gospel Jesus exercises power over the material world, turning water into wine, multiplying loaves and calming storms. Jesus heals the lame with a word, the blind with a touch, restores the dying from a distance. Demonic forces tremble in his presence. Jesus manifests the ability to forgive sins, transform lives and even give life to the dead. Throughout the gospels, Jesus appears as one who embodies the power of God.

Paul reminds us, however, that the fullness of God's power is not revealed through signs and wonders but through Jesus' self-sacrificing love poured out on the cross. The crucifixion demonstrates God's great love for us and for the world. The cross defeats sin, death and evil and this proclaims the great good news that God's love triumphs over all. Surely, God's ways are not our ways and God's power transcends all earthly powers.

For those who are only impressed by miraculous signs or wonders of earthly abundance, the cross is a huge disappointment, an affront. Jesus, the Son of God, suffers at the hands of sinful people. He is mocked and humiliated. The very breath of life is taken from him. To the human eye the cross looks like ignominious defeat, a moment of divine impotence. Jesus' cry from the cross "My God, My God why have you forsaken me" aches with brokenness. To the worldly, the cross reflects shame and apparent failure. But Paul invites us to look with the eyes of faith, to see the cross as an expression of God's holy, compassionate power. On the cross, the weight of the world's sin is lifted up and painstakingly taken away. Through the cross God reconciles earth and heaven. On the cross, sin, hatred and death are overcome as new life and abiding love claim the victory.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."

How incredible that the foolishness of God's extravagant, self-sacrificing love in Jesus Christ should prove more powerful than all the evils of this world.

May you in the season of Lent, be touched anew by God's transcendent love, revealed on the cross, and receive forgiveness, redemption and new life through the power of Christ's sacrifice.

In Christ's Service,

Rev. Peggy Ann Sauerhoff