Good Friday 2014
Christ Church (Parish) Church
Fredericton, New Brunswick
April 18, 2014 12 Noon - 3:00 p.m.
The Reverend Anthony Kwaw
Rector of Fredericton
The Reverend Canon Jim Irvine
They shared a path to Golgotha. The route from sentencing to execution wound through the streets of the City and led to the Gate. With the festive air of the Festival, the route was congested with onlookers.
Under the burden of a cross beam each felon strained to thread his way. It might have been easier if it had been the Eye of a Needle, the curious pressed in so.
The Roman Guard marshalled the condemned men and pressed the people back allowing the condemned to pass through the narrow streets.
No bands, no floats, nothing hinting a parade advanced through the City Gate. Rich men threading this Gate along with young boys and curious women were caught up in the flow. Soldiers passing through this Gate channelled condemned men on their way to a Green Hill, not far away – outside the City Wall.
Amongst them was Jesus and in his company other men – men whose names we do not know, and may never have known. Jeering and heckling made up for the lack of marching bands and military rhythm. All sorts and conditions saw the rabble stumble over the cobblestones and rugged pathway. Among them, scattered amongst the assembled masses were companions of Jesus, men who altered their path in life in order to be with him. Disciples had not imagined the scene that held them in the shadows.
They had responded to a gracious invitation had been made by Jesus. He had lifted his voice for all to hear. Andrew heard his voice and so had Peter. Others did as well. James and John walked away from their nets to fish for men. Matthew, who had sat at his counting table, had turned his back on a familiar path only to set his face to be with Jesus. This worn path led to a hill studded with poles awaiting cross beams.
But Jesus’ voice had been heard on other occasions as well.
On the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus had stood in the Temple and cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’
“Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Without wavering, Jesus lifts his voice for all to hear - his was an invitation to accompany him in a fellowship reflecting the mysterious beneficence he shared in company with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Moments before his betrayal, as disciples slumbered in Gethsemane, Jesus lifts his voice in prayer and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.”
That work was being finished in the company of thieves and murderers and felons of every kind. Jesus found strength – the strength and power of God – to lift his voice and assure the veracity of his companionship – even with the likes of those who kept him company.
Today you will be with me; neither the threat of Hades nor the reward of Heaven, but the assurance of companionship with Jesus in and through and beyond the torments of the moment. Certainly such assurance – being with Jesus – is Paradise indeed!
And as the events of this dreadful day ran their course, and one day led into another, Jesus’ voice did not fall silent for long. He raised his voice for others to hear… in an Upper Room… and behind locked doors…
“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
Such is the case today.
For all of our fears and for all of our doubt Jesus’ voice continues to find breath and his gracious invitation has not wavered. Greeted with the Shalom of God, our hesitancy is displaced and new courage takes hold. With that new-found courage we are capable to hearing his voice. He invites us as he once called Andrew and his brother Peter. He enlists us as he once enlisted James and his brother John. He calls us to follow him along a new path as he once bid Matthew to change his course and set his face in a new direction.
“As the Father sent me,” Jesus reminds us, ”so I send you.” And then he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The pattern proclaimed by Isaiah was voiced for all to hear when Jesus stood in the Synagogue and read from the Scroll… “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour.”
2011 Come and Follow Me
2014 Folly of God