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
Into your hands
I’m not sure that Luke heard the words; he most certainly had the scene indelibly imprinted on his memory. Amongst the carnage of Golgotha, carrion birds and stray dogs the image of Jesus being removed from the Tree was long lasting.
The beginning and the ending of the drama of Redemption saw Mary and in her arms, Jesus – her hands caressing his face, his skin. Pink and lustrous and filled with vitality as he suckled her… but that was decades earlier.
The hopes and dreams of a young mother filled her dreams and overflowed her imagination. God’s purpose was contained in her son and as their eyes met, playfully, her face reflected in his gaze, she was filled with delight.
Now the weight that she bore was heavy and dead, his gaze listless, his skin caked with blood and perspiration and growing cold. The pallor of death swept over him and no hope was reflected in his eyes.
With little breath and little more strength, it was all that Jesus could do, to whisper into the eddies of wind that spun around the Guards and those who had stayed until the end: “Into your hands I commit my spirit…” Perhaps there was a slight movement in his lips as his last thoughts gained shape and words and found expression. The Place of the Skull had acquired one more.
Relinquishing himself into the hands of another demonstrated the inherent weakness so many have mistaken the Passion to be. The wisdom of man has been turned on its head. Paul became aware of that. Lettered, learned, Paul grasped the difficulty he had with the followers of Jesus as he sought them out in order to suppress their faith. What Saul had opposed so furiously, so faithfully he had come to realize that the wisdom – the Sophia of God was reflected in him whom John had seen as the Word – the Logos of God.
But this afternoon has been no Matinée. The darkness that filled that Friday afternoon in the month of Nissan outside the City Wall of Jerusalem, the darkness that has filled our Friday afternoon in this month of April here in this cavernous nave – that atmosphere was not a place for the voyeur to sit back and stare. This is not a theatrical event with indifferent spectators passively witnessing a production fashioned for the Silver Screen.
Ours has not been a review of the Son of God with the smells of the concession stand wafting into the auditorium. And when the three hours are passed we will not simply rise up and slip on our coats and walk out into the bright sun of a Friday afternoon remembering where we parked our cars.
Ours has been a journey of faith. The images have not been those projected on a screen, defining and limiting the narrow events that made up the intervening time. Scripture and responsive prayer, hymns of praise and choral anthems have engaged each of us as participants that have stood here on holy ground. Some of us have stood here before, but at different vantage points. Some of us have found ourselves here for the first time. And some of us will return again. Pilgrims always return. A pilgrimage invariably leads men and women to God in ways that are fitting as we mature in the faith. But for all that we have witnessed, we know this: the screen will not fill in its closing frames with the calligraphy proclaiming that we have come to the End.
This is not an ending, but a beginning.
Ours has been an opportunity to see in this segmented account of four evangelists witnessing to the closing hours of Jesus’ ministry not the crushing failure of an ideal. Paul helps us see that here we have a glimpse of the nature of the Messiah Jesus presented in the lives of men and women whose need of God and of God’s love and mercy and forgiveness magnetically drew him into their lives.
Christology is what we find in text books written by authors who give expression to such epiphanies. We are called to recognize him for what and who he is for ourselves. Our challenge is to find words – our words – to clarify who it is that comes from God, and, Who once revealed will not depart.
2011 Come and Follow Me
2014 Folly of God