We’ll leave quietly tonight. We’ll leave this barren landscape, the barren interior of this church and maybe quickly, furtively turn on the music in our cars to try and dampen what I suspect may be the profoundly loud sound of silence - left with us after witnessing to, after hearing again the story of Christ’s willingly given sacrifice. Such deep, strong, and powerfully given LOVE.

The apostle Paul pointed out that while some among us might be willing to die for a good or a righteous person, God proved God’s love for us by dying - for us - even while we were still broken, still sinners. And this LOVE is a justifying act, an act by God to reconcile all that has fallen away from God’s loving intent and purposes.

You know how a dog can worry at a bone or a person might worry at a problem until they come up with a solution? God has been worrying at the problem created by the good and right gift of free will (we are not puppets!) mated with the brokenness and sin that continually traps humanity (war, poverty, racism and so much more); God has been worrying at this problem throughout the ages – how to help humanity and the world to be reconciled, re-configured, resurrected forward to a better life. And while we were (and are) still broken, God did not stay distant from the wreckage being caused here on earth, but instead sent God’s own self to become fully human in Christ.

And on this day we have heard again the story of Christ’s passion - Christ’s willing journey of loving sacrifice on the cross that rivets our eyes and our hearts because how can anyone - even God - love us and this world enough to willingly suffer like this?

And even if we try to dull or forget the truth by turning on the music in our cars or running back to the various distractions of our lives, the truth of this love will never cease pursuing us for the single purpose of working new life, of working a new creation. For the single purpose of meeting the struggles and brokenness of this world and the likes of us and declaring that there will, by a still deeper power, there will be a still deeper story of re-creation and resurrection. And oh, this deeper story of deeper LOVE is anything but barren like this sanctuary and the loneliness and tragedy of the cross and the sometimes loneliness and tragedy of this world and of our lives.

On this night we acknowledge that it was and is an essential part of God’s creating and recreating will to give everything – to spare nothing - in order to meet barrenness with barrenness and leave in its place a deeper LOVE.