The Final Stone

Journey Week 6 - Good Friday“The Final Stone”
Friday, March 25, 2016
Good Friday
8th in Series: Journey of Stones

“Lamentations of the Lamb: A Service for Tenebrae”

[Our Chancel Choir performs this beautiful choral piece on Good Friday evening.  There are scripture readings and dramatic reflections interspersed between the songs.  Before the final song, Pastor will add this brief meditation on the final stone in our Journey of Stones.]

(Page 52)

The Gospel Narrative:
As evening approached, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Joseph was a disciple, but secretly because he feared the Jews.  With Pilate’s permission, he took the body, wrapped it in linen and placed it in his own new tomb.  Then he rolled a large stone across its entrance.

The Lament of the Lamb:
Look on me, the one you have pierced, and mourn for me as one mourns for an only child.  Death wrapped its chain around me; the flood of destruction swept over me.  The grave coiled its cord around me and death set its trap before me.  I was cut off from the land of the living; punished for the transgression of my people.  I was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in death, though I committed no crime.  O Lord, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

Pastor Don:
He rolled a great stone across the door of the tomb and went away.

According to John’s gospel, just before he dies Jesus says: “It is finished.”  This is a theological statement that challenges us to ask: what is “it”?  IT is the plan God crafted to bring humanity back into a secure relationship with the Father once again.  IT is the life project of Jesus, allow himself to be sacrificed as the Lamb.  IT is the end of the most horrific week in human history, when loyalty and love was transcended by mob rule, and jealous hatred.  IT, explicitly, is the work of salvation.  IT was finished on Good Friday.   In truth, IT cannot be totally complete until you and I hear it, and see it, and grasp it, and own it as ours.  That is why the final stone of our Journey of Stones is the most painful of all.  May God grant us faith and courage to ponder Good Friday, and the day IT became God’s gracious act.

All the stones that you and I have laid at the foot of the cross this Lenten season have taken their toll.  All the greed, all the hatred, all the vulgarity, all the selfishness, all the violence, all the unfaithfulness – they have not only covered the base of the cross, they have littered our lives.  The final stone is the one which is rolled to the entrance of Jesus’ grave.  It is a final barrier, if you will, between us and the One who loved us so much.  When the final stone was rolled into place, it gave tangible expression to our sins.  The sum of them is so enormous, they block us from God.  And as hard as we may try, we cannot roll this stone away by ourselves.

Tonight you have the chance to pick up one final stone for your journey.  This stone is different; we will not be leaving it here in the sanctuary tonight.  This stone will go home with us as a reminder fo all the stones that keep us from loving God completely.  Let it be a reminder of whatever stands between you and the Savior.  Keep it with you tomorrow as we wait for the darkness to end.  Maybe bring it with you to Easter Sunrise Service and leave it there at the empty cross, as a reminder of the final stone that changed the course of human history.  Indeed, my friends, IT IS FINISHED!  In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“Lamentation for the Lamb”

[Message and series inspired by “Journey of Stones” by Steven Molin.  © 2002,
CSS Publishing Company, Lima, OH.]

“Lamentations of the Lamb”, by Pamela Stewart and John Purifoy; © 2015 Brookfield Press