A Service for the Third Sunday in Lent
‘For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.’
The passage from 1 Corinthians which is one of our readings today is one of immense power and also one that speaks to the unique quality of Christianity.
I was listening to a fascinating history programme this week, concerning the Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten. At some point during his reign as Pharaoh he declared that the god, Aten, was the only god, moving away from the centuries old practice of worshipping multiple gods. He had temples and palaces built to Aten and took the name Akhenaten, meaning ‘the spirit of Aten’.
His vision of the only god was of one of great power who demanded worship and absolute obedience. Aten was, for Akhenaten, a supreme leader and being.
All through history gods have been feared and worshipped and sacrifices made to them, but Christianity is unique among religions because we believe that God loved humanity so much that he himself became the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
I personally believe that Christianity is good for our emotional and spiritual well-being because God, in Jesus, completely experienced our brokenness and entered into it so that he might mend us. He became weak on behalf of all our weaknesses and took upon himself all of our willful wrongdoing.
This may well be looked upon as weak and foolish by many. But, of course, the story doesn’t end there. What looks like God’s folly and weakness in Jesus’ death on the cross, is transformed into something else completely through the resurrection. Through the lens of the resurrection the crucifixion does not look like weakness at all, but the way to freedom and new life.
So, our own weakness and brokenness is no longer the end of the story because God himself has taken it all upon himself and offers back to us the chance of forgiveness and transformation. That does not sound like foolishness, but the ultimate wisdom, full of grace and mercy.
I enclose with this letter, a letter from June Foster which makes for a fascinating and moving read. The young people she describes, joyfully worshipping God in places where they put themselves in danger, may be accused by some of foolishness. But they have the experience and belief in God’s transforming power and strength and that, in my book, makes them very wise indeed.