Making the First Move

Christ’s passion is the lynchpin of all creation, all time, and of all history.

It is the most important event in the annals of humankind,
the most significant occurrence of your life and mine,
and if it was not for the proceedings of these three days, nothing else would matter.

Tonight, dear friends, we gather on Good Friday,
which is the dark and black Night of the Cross,
but the night which is also called “good,”
because Jesus Christ bears all our sin upon himself.

This Day of the Cross stands at the center of God’s story,
And it just so happens that this year
it also falls on National “Making the First Move Day.”

Today is “Making the First Move Day,” across the US
an all-inclusive holiday
held annually on April 7, which is aimed at,
recognizing, naming, and combating bullying.

The goal of the observance
is to stand in solidarity with those who are bullied,
And to make the first move to prevent bullying in all its forms
Including shaming, abuse, and assault –
and to assist victims in recovering from harassment
and all its negative effects.

Besides posting on social media for National Making the First Move Day
people gather today for forums and discussions,
and take a pledge not to ignore bullying, but to intervene,
and stop the scourge of victimization,
for our children and their families.

Interestingly enough,
Today, organizers and leaders of the “Making the First Move” movement,
Invite anyone and everyone to show solidarity and support for the movement,
by wearing the color red to symbolize passion.

Jesus’ passion looked at first glance a lot like he was on the receiving end of being bullied.

After all, he was flogged and beaten.

Soldiers roughed him up and twisted a crown of thorns for his brow,
Which was meant to pierce his face and his head, yes,
But, above all, was used as a way to humiliate and mock him.

The purple robe, too, was a way to make fun of Jesus,
And highlight what was, to their thinking, the sheer audacity
Of this poor and humble rabbi’s sham claim to be a king.

Bullying behavior, of course, is aimed at hurting someone,
But the most terrible thing about it for those who are harassed,
isn’t the physical hurt,
But the emotional injury – the embarrassment.

The aim of the crowds and the leaders
Was certainly to publicly shame and berate Jesus.

Jesus was mocked as the crowd publicly called him the name of a guilty criminal,
Even though Pilate, the disciples, and the crowd,
Knew that he’s actually innocent.

Jesus was humiliated on the cross
Made to hang naked as the soldiers gambled for his clothes
And as he had to watch as his own mother standing by witnessing the cruelty.

We see that Jesus in his passion is bullied
but he allows himself to be.

Jesus is totally in control of the situation.

Jesus has already said long ago to those who would listen:

“I am the good shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.
For this reason, the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”

Even in the midst of his passion
Jesus is in control of things.

He stands before Pilate cool and collected
And turns the questioning on the questioner.
Jesus then carries the cross under his own strength,
And Jesus decides when to give up his spirit.

So often we think we’re in control of our life,
We think we are basically good people
That make a few mistakes now and again
And that when we look to the cross,
We can be sure that we are not alone in our suffering
And God identifies with our pain.

And it is true
that the cross is our assurance that God is with us in our suffering,

But, make no mistake,
it is our sin that put Jesus on the cross
And Jesus’ death is firstly the downpayment on God’s promise
to save us from our sin.

We have been bullied for sure –
us or the people we love –
Perhaps both
by sad sick people in our schools or workplaces or homes –
Online, or in-person

And truly, the last few years have been hard,
We have been bullied by a pandemic and its aftereffects.

Our families and communities
Have been bruised at the hands of depression and sickness
and anxiety and fear and worry,

We are hurt by the world and the sin of others.

But we also are the bullies,

We have hurt others
By what we have said and done
And by what we have failed to say and failed to do,

We treat God’s creation as if it was here only for our enjoyment,
Rather than a sacred calling to tend to God’s creation with care.

We do not do as much as we could to help others
And have seen others in need and looked away.

And yet Jesus Christ on the cross makes the first move toward all of us:

The bullied and the bullies alike.

On the cross, Jesus dresses in passion to call our attention to the urgency of our
Sin and brokenness and to show us what it does and will always do,
Which is that it leads to death.

Jesus takes on the punishment of our sin and the power of death
And he hangs there
to declare that God is love,
And that God will always be making the first move toward us
so that we can have life.

God makes the first move toward us,
Coming to us again today in goodness and righteousness and purity
With compassion and consolation for the griefs we bear.

God makes the first move toward us to bind up our broken hearts,
wash away our sin,
and give us a new beginning.

God makes the first move toward us
Creating a community where all are valued and loved and included
And protected.

And because God makes the first move,
Coming to us each day in forgiveness and mercy and love,

We can respond by
looking to one another without judgement,
and letting gratitude for all God has done for us fill our hearts
And reaching out to one another with love
and service and forgiveness in the way of Jesus.

Like Jesus, we can respond to God by trusting
that God has made the first move toward us for our salvation
And God will continue to make all the right moves needed to keep us in his care.

As Jesus breathes his last and his bruised body is taken down from the cross
It looks like the end of the story,
But the world had never seen
The next move up God’s sleeve.


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