Kindred in Christ,

Have you ever felt utterly abandoned or forsaken—maybe even by God? Perhaps it was a time you found yourself alone in the hospital facing uncertainty of health. Perhaps it was after the untimely end of a friendship or marriage. Perhaps it was during an economic hardship that you never imagined you’d have to face. Whatever the case, the twists and turns of our human journeys can sometimes leave us feeling defeated and alone.

In the opening of The Cross and The Lynching Tree, the founder of Black Liberation Theology, James Cone, insists to us, “The cross is a paradoxical religious symbol because it inverts the world’s value system with the news that hopes come by way of defeat, that suffering and death do not have the last word, that the last shall be first and the first last (Pg. 2).” As we journey toward the cross this Lenten season, we are all invited to contemplate our own human experiences of defeat, suffering, and even death. Rather than pretending that these pervasive parts of our lives do not exist, we can meditate upon them and find that God is with us in solidarity though as the Crucified One. Lent has the power to invert our understanding of human vulnerability as the site where we can encounter God. Indeed, the gospels reveal that God enters our world to share in human suffering and oppression, in order to inject healing, salvation, and liberation into our lives.

As we will see on Sunday, Jesus did not shy away from reflecting upon human tragedy and untimely death (Luke 13:1-9). He even went as far as to raise the question if the victims of calamity were being punished by God for their sins (which was the stigma of the day). Jesus answers this hypothetical question with an unequivocal “no”. We are not being forsaken by a punishing God in our experiences of human suffering. This is a false theology that denies God’s nature of solidarity and love. As we will reflect further on Sunday, Jesus offers us an image of a God who is with us through the totality of human life (the joys and the pains) always nurturing us toward resurrection. This is good news in a world of twists and turns! Join us as we continue in our worship series, The Path Back to You. See you on FB Live!

– Rev. Paul Ortiz