Faith in Fairfield: Friendship, forgiveness fundamental to Easter
Published 5:30 pm, Saturday, April 23, 2011
"A little child shall lead them," the Bible says, a great verse that should keep adults humble.
In ancient Israel, young David led Israel to a great victory over Goliath. Later on, young Jesus showed surprising wisdom and maturity when barely a teenager.
Two youngsters have led me this Easter season. At Greenfield Hill Congregational Church our confirmation class leads our earliest Easter service from soup to nuts -- preaching, music, everything. One of our young preachers, Will, has focused on "friendship" for his theme. His idea is that the whole Easter message of God's love can best be understood in human terms as the gift of friendship. The other teenage preacher, Daniel, is emphasizing "forgiveness," reminding us that forgiveness is the result of God's friendship with us through Jesus.
Will and Daniel are right. In the Book of Proverbs there is an intriguing verse, "There is a friend who is closer than a brother." Jesus elaborates on that when he says, "There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends."
Jesus fulfilled every noble definition of friendship and love we can imagine. That is true without getting into any theology or doctrine. Jesus simply decided that we were worth every sacrifice, every humiliation, every obstacle or inconvenience or challenge that friendship with humanity could require.
More InformationGREENFIELD HILL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH 1045 Old Academy Road, Fairfield 203-259-5596 / http://web.me.com/greenfieldhillchurch/Site/GHCC_Welcome.html CO-PASTORS: Rev. David Johnson Rowe and Rev. Alida Ward HISTORY: Greenfield Hill residents assembled in a tiny building in 1725 for their first worship as the "Northwest Parish," which had recently been permitted to separate from the First Church of Fairfield. There were 13 men. One year later, 15 women were added, and by the end of 1726, there were 70 members. Timothy Dwight was the church's fourth and most famous minister. After his 12-year pastorate, Dwight became president of Yale College in New Haven PROGRAMS: Dogwood Festival annually since 1936, Greenfield Hill Church Nursery School, Memorial Garden, weekly youth ministry and fellowship programs, Bible study, Book Chat, community service including Operation Hope meals.
No wonder that one of the most popular Christian hymns declares, "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear"!
Last week at Yale I went to see a startling play, "The Trial of Judas Iscariot." Provocative and straightforward, it lays out the story of Judas' betrayal of Jesus, tackling topics like free will, anti-Semitism, forgiveness, justice.
Most challenging of all, the play asks if Jesus would put any limits on his friendship and forgiveness. Jesus and Judas were close, friends for three years. Could such love, such friendship, actually overcome Judas' weakness, failure, betrayal, sin? Could Jesus forgive even Judas? Even me?
Judas fights it, mocks it, curses it.
Jesus kneels, and washes Judas' feet.
I think my young friends, Will and Daniel, and the young playwright understood the Easter story. They set a high standard for us.