It looked like a pincushion, so many nails driven into the wood, fastening the confessions of shame and sorrow for all to see. It was Good Friday, and the large wooden cross on the stage stood stark and alone, reminding us that the record of debt was nailed to that cross so many years ago. Before we were even born, God had already taken upon himself the consequence of our choices and forgiven us. The cross stood alone, studded with our own confessions as we left the sanctuary in muted light to go out into the darkness.
But that was then; today, accompanied by the band singing "Death was Arrested," pastor Joe and our youth leader Matt pulled those nails with crowbars, dropping them one by one into a tin bucket, punctuating the lyrics with a rhythmic clang as the guilt was symbolically erased. It was a powerful moment, a wordless sermon that cannot be replicated by my feeble attempt to describe it.
This afternoon I talked with a friend who is struggling with some of the same issues I face. I'm at a stage in life where I look back with regret for sins committed, mistakes made, opportunities missed, that can never be fixed. I can't go back an undo any of it, and there's not nearly as much time ahead of me as I would like to do better. The weight of those sins would be unbearable were it not for the knowledge that Christ died and rose again to set me free from the guilt and shame. So I keep looking to the cross, empty now, for Christ died, was buried, and has risen. It is God's way of telling me and all who find themselves at that same crossroad in life that we are not defined by our past, but by his, and by the future into which we are called. It is that hope that fills my heart tonight. I am truly free, as long as I keep looking to God's provision instead of my failure. As the ancient Christians greeted each other, "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!