Please remember that this evening we are gathering to read through Chapter 5 – The Cross and Suffering. One of the points that Tomlin brings out in this chapter is that any discussion of Christ’s suffering on the cross must end with the Resurrection. There simply is no salvation in a Christ who only suffered and died for that would mean that death had ultimately triumphed. I have attached a copy of the first chapter of Michael Green’s book The Empty Cross of Jesus where Green outlines his argument of the unfortunate consequences that occur when Christ’s suffering is examined separately from his Resurrection. pp.13-17. I invite you to read through this brief introduction as to the necessity of discussing the Cross and Resurrection together.
As we gather this evening, please keep the following questions in mind:
· Do you know of people who have lost their faith through suffering? Have you ever been tempted to do the same?
· “God, in the person of the Son, knows what it is to suffer abandonment, agony, and death.” p.111. Do you find this idea comforting or disturbing?
· Do you think God the Father suffers? Or is it important to say that the Father is beyond suffering?
· “Two things can make suffering bearable. One is to know we are not alone. The other is to know it is temporary.” p.115. Which of these is most important? Are there other insights that can ease our suffering?
· How soft is your heart? Whom are you called to love, even when it hurts?
· Can you make sense of the idea that God in Jesus undergoes suffering but God the Father does not? How does this idea help us live with ongoing suffering?
· When we ‘take up our crosses’ and understand the cross of Christ in a ‘deep, personal heartfelt way’, Tomlin says our hearts are softer. Has he made the right connection? Does choosing suffering increase our empathy?
Last week, we discussed the Cross and Identity, and looked at how “Christian” can itself become a poisonous and exclusivist identity (see Northern Ireland). This week I came across this discussion in Sojourners Magazine where the writer had his “identity as a ‘good’ liberal Christian” challenged by Bill O’Reilly, and how if our Christian identity is formed in opposition to people with whom we don’t agree, then our identity isn’t truly Christian. Regardless of your political persuasion, the article provides a good follow-up to last week’s discussion.
Please remember the offerings on Wednesday evening:
· Trinity is continuing its series on “Confronting Evil.” The discussion this week is “Jesus Confronts Evil.” Iain+ is giving the talk. Dinner at 5:30 (please let the church know if you are coming to dinner) with the talk beginning at 6:00.
· Messiah has a joint Wednesday Lenten program with and at St. Phillip’s. Dinner is at 5:45 (please let the church know if you are coming to dinner) followed by a study. Evening Prayer is at 7:30. Randy+ is giving the homily.
Dinner at 6. The menu is pasta primavera. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.
When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.Rom 8:15b-18.