Crowe, 34, is the senior pastor of Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church, a congregation of 688 members in downtown Durham, NC. The church is located near Duke University’s East Campus.
This Sunday I am preaching from the Gospel of John. It is one of the accounts of the appearance of Jesus to the disciples following his resurrection. In the text he comes into a room where they had been eating, and shows them the scars from the wounds of the crucifixion that he bore in his hands and feet as a way of demonstrating that it was he who was present with them.
It is significant that the resurrected body of Christ still bears the scars of the trial of crucifixion. In a week where a deep wound has been inflicted on the heart of the country, and has scarred the bodies and lives of so many, we are invited to recall that we have a Savior who shows us his scars in solidarity with the trials that we endure, and who knows our pain. But not only that, the resurrected body of Christ reveals that the site of our deepest wounds can be the very place where God’s work of healing the world with love is at hand.
This is the paradox of the cross, that the place of our deepest pain is the point where redemption begins. As the marathon runner knows, a muscle is built up first by being exercised–effectively torn apart and broken down until protein fills in the gaps in the tissue to create a stronger body. So it is with the life of faith. When Jesus bore the world’s brokenness on the cross, God’s grace filled in the gap between human sin and God’s righteousness, building a stronger body by uniting us with God through Christ as one. Today, the scars on Christ’s body represent the brokenness and sin of the world that can break us down, create gaps in our faith, and tear us apart as a human family. In this painful and anxious place, God’s grace fills in the gaps by the work and power of the Holy Spirit, building us all into a stronger body of believers, and making the moment of crisis a means of transformation within disciples, communities, and the world.
In Boston this week, and in many other places around the globe, the wounds and brokenness within our world were painfully evident. The scars in the hands and feet of our risen Lord testify that our response as disciples is not to hang our heads, but to lift our eyes to the One who is present with us always in our midst, building up God’s kingdom when ours are broken down, rushing to the site of our wounds to heal and redeem, and turning tragedy into triumph by God’s grace. On Easter we saw that the shadow of the cross gives way to the light of the empty tomb, and so, as Paul tells us, we can run with endurance the race that is set before us. Christ has united us with God in love. And God always wins.