March 27, 2019 Midweek Lent Sermon Series, Lenten Chrismons- The Rooster
If you’ve been joining us for the past couple Wednesdays, you’re up to speed on the sermon series and its focus we’ve had for lent this year. If not let me just do a short recap. Chrismons are so named for being “Christ monograms” shortened to the word Chrismon. A monogram is a symbol, that is used in replace of the actual item. Like letter monograms of a person’s initials such as JFK to refer to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But a monogram can also be a picture or artwork- like the Nike Swoosh represents the Nike company.
One of the most common Chrismons a symbol for Christ is the cross. And we have several of these in our sanctuary. (Slide #2). A very accepted and often anticipated symbol to come across in a Christian church. A little less common but somewhat well-known Chrismons are those that show up on Christmas trees. (Slide #3). Now one of the things unique to Chrismons, is that they’re not just a symbol. They must be a hand made symbol of Christ. So no professionally manufactured type Nike symbol rendering of a symbol of Christ. The idea is the symbol of Christ gets handmade loving attention.
Now Greenford Lutheran has been blessed with lovingly hand made Chrismons since the 60’s when our ladies group started making them for our Christmas tree. (Slide #4) Yet it didn’t end there. Later in the 1980’s these same women came together to take on another challenge: to make Lenten Chrismons. Symbols of Christ that had more to do with Christ’s journey to the cross than his birth at Bethlehem. By our 150th anniversary in 1991 they had made over 15 Lenten Chrismons to be dedicated and displayed (Slide #5).
Tonight, we’re going to look at one of those handmade Lenten Chrismons- the rooster (Slide #6). I used to believe the idealized Hollywood version of roosters and the rural life. Believing rooster’s crowing in the morning could be something you could set your watch to. Come to find out that they’re somewhat as haphazard in getting up in the morning as I am. Yeah, they crow but it isn’t exactly the same time every morning. So, when Jesus predicts “before the cock crows” there’s a lot of room error. (Slide #7)
Yet, there was no error in his prediction, before there would be enough daylight to encourage the rooster to greet the morning, Peter would deny knowing Jesus not just once but three times over. Denial and betrayal are bitter pills but at the hand of a good friend its deadly. Peter’s denial turned out to be the pivotal point in Jesus’ trial because after that no one seemed able to stand up or speak up for Jesus. Despite crowds singing his praises just days earlier, thousands going out to the desert to hear his sermons, gathering at the seashore to listen to his parables. If a good friend won’t vouch for you, who will?
What a difference a day makes?! (Slide #8) As the sun comes up and the rooster greets the new day Peter has gone from a devoted to disciple to a denying coward. Yet the crow isn’t just a symbol of Peter’s denial. It’s also a symbol of Christ’s knowledge. Jesus knew at that last supper those faithful friends gathered around him would all run away. He knew who it was who would betray him and who it was that would deny him and yet he loved them, supped with them, and would go on to choose to suffer for them. (Slide #9)
Daybreak is a sign of hope and renewal, the rooster crowing the sign of a new day now for Peter becomes synonymous with his failure and his faithlessness. Yet, like the cross Jesus transforms this symbol from something to be banished from our minds to instead something to crow about. Reminds me of another local famous rooster (Slide 10). Something to crow about.
Not a national fair but it is a heavenly truth. That Jesus is a friend of sinners. Jesus can accept and forgive even the worst of sinners, even the deepest of cuts, betrayals. In just about all the symbols we have sitting on those window sills- Jesus transforms what once was bad news, into good news. (Slide #11) The memory of a rooster’s cry confirming the end of a friendship the death of a relationship can now -because of Christ journey to the cross and beyond the grave, can now be looked upon as good news.
A new day is dawning for us who have wandered away into sin, a new day is dawning for us who have denied God. Much like another popular Chrismon known to many the world around (Slide #12). Jesus can transform for those who put their trust in him, their sin into forgiveness, their sin into salvation. Let these silent sermons of Greenford Lutheran speak to your heart, crow about the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Amen. (Slide #13).