Passion Sunday 2009

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Sprit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

There is a profoundly honest allegory concerning the development of a human conscience, with respect to the revelation of God in the lives of each and every one of us, in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. Without now elaborating upon the finer points of the story, which deserve a period of review and reflection not possible in this sermon, it is sufficient to note how the narrator and protagonist of the story, an everyman who has been identified with Doctor Lewis himself, but with whom we all are called upon to identify, finds himself “in the beginning,” as it were, in a state of confusion, that chaos before the Spirit moveth upon the face of the waters, which in the context of the allegory is understood as a Hellish, metropolitan sprawl. Indeed, it is Hell, the obsession of those immersed still within their own sins; but it is also the state of man before his conscience has been formed: the end and the beginning of all things, the Omega and the Alpha, for those whose “god” is the sweet and seductive charms of the Devil.

The Devil indeed is the Prince of the lost, and there is no doubt as to the vastness and depth of his dominion; but he faces what he must view as an insufferable peril: the reality of Almighty God, in his sovereign mercy and judgment, forever and always offering a way out for the lost. Now, it is true that the fires of Hell are everlasting. Pharaoh’s heart indeed is hardened and cannot but descend beneath the waters; but that is an indication of the condition of men who choose the obsessions of a Hell, not of the lack of God in remaining available to those who indeed may repent to Him.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In the allegory, God provides an out in the form of a recurring ride on an otherwise plain, inconspicuous bus. The riders more or less stumble themselves upon the bus, not really knowing why they are there, and not expecting anything more than another fruitless excursion from nowhere to nothingness. The blessings of God indeed are disguised; even the Son does not know when the Father shall bring His people fully unto Him.

At the end of the line, and much to their surprise and chagrin, these riders are offered a new beginning, one resplendent in a life that the dead works of their Hellish obsessions cannot abide. Indeed, there is an unfathomable divorce between life and death; and the riders as such must choose. In that choice, and the existential awakening to the real fire from which the faint shadows emerge within the cave, a conscience is born: the shade arises as a man, or he descends into a final death. Most of the riders choose the later, and the bus then returns them to the metropolitan sprawl below.

“Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Indeed, God will purge our consciences from their attachments to the dead works of sin. He shall deliver us from the snare of the enemy and from the noisome pestilence; but in order so to do, we must have first a conscience that cries out to Him: Abba, Father. We must choose Him, when there is nothing but darkness around us, when our pleas appear as unheard, and our cries simply bounce back upon ourselves. Like Job, we must love Him, when He offers our wellbeing to the Devil and refuses to allow our sense of righteousness and of fairness to substitute for His own. God will not allow for us to choose Him below any other choice, no matter how grievous that may be for us, because He wants us to have the consciences of Sons of God, the same conscience that Christ displayed in choosing the Cross, as our example and for our redemption.

This is what it means to have our consciences purged from dead works, so as to serve the living God. It is our glory in Christ Jesus, that the world may be crucified unto us, and we unto the world. In every choice that we make for or against such love of God, both small and large in measure and consequence, we develop our consciences in one direction or the other. Let us pray therefore that by the grace and countenance of the Holy Spirit our gaze may arise more often than it descends.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

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