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
Every beginning has an ending.
The story of Redemption began much earlier and we have been absorbed by the final chapter throughout this afternoon. Our watch by the cross had its beginning as Jesus’ final three hours began to run out. Each sentence attributed to him has been visited, in turn, and each began and ended and pages were turned. Each one stood alone but each one led to the next as well, as words do in a sentence until all that is thought is said. And silence then fills the void.
The word – the Logos of God found expression and shaped words that have provided every age with thoughtful reflection. Paul’s reflection introduces us to another metaphor. While John wrote from the position of revealed faith perceived by the followers of Jesus in the Ephesus community, Paul addressed the disciples in Corinth.
“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” Paul wrote, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” He went on to say, “For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom – the Sophia of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
Rood crosses are found in holy places of worship throughout Christendom. Over arching the chancel step, faithful communicants pass under the symbol of our Redemption as they proceed to the Communion Rail, first to kneel and receive the Host and then, in turn the Chalice: the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation.
In many locations this looming symbol, traced at our baptism on our foreheads, is flanked by images of the Beloved Disciple and Jesus’ Mother, Mary. Seiger Köder depicts them in his view of the crucifixion and they are accompanied by others hidden in the shadows – witnesses all of what Paul saw as the demonstration of the power of God in the midst of this epoch battle between good and evil, between the righteousness of God and the dark forces of this world, between life and death. And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
The gospel narrative goes on to say that as Jesus breathed his last the veil of the Temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom. I suspect that there is more expressed here that is Christological than historically. The orchestration of the Redemption of creation found concurrence in Jesus’ covenantal action on Golgotha as rites mirrored in the Temple precincts on the facing hill, within the walled City were carried out.
As Passover lambs were sacrificed on the Temple Mount so the Lamb of God is found in the heights of Golgotha. Jesus’ struggle supplanted the other, and access was made of the Holy of Holies. A new Day was about to erupt and that which was hidden was now disclosed, that which was secret was now revealed. As High Priest, Jesus entered the precincts and burst open the doors, tore open the curtains, revealed a clear path for all to enter in.
Seiger Köder presents the embrace of Jesus not reaching across the breadth of his cross, but upward – with arms outstretched as though expressed in triumphal Halleluiahs – grasping hold of a veil and wrenching it apart, from the top to the bottom. From the heights of Golgotha, from the heights of his cross, Jesus could reach sufficiently high and catch hold of the material that hid from peoples’ eyes the Holiness of God’s confined presence.
Such was the wisdom – the very Sophia of God expressed in what was effective in the darkness that shrouded Golgotha. In the suffocating darkness of an afternoon in the month of Nissan when Pontius Pilate was Governor of Judea a highway was excavated for the redeemed of the Lord to gain access to life and health and salvation.
Paul underscores the event and went on to write to the Corinthians, “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.”
A humble silence falls on the scene. A soldier observes that here is the Son of God. Not many may have heard his confession then; suffice it to say that the gospel report makes us beneficiaries of his epiphany. In the maelstrom recreation erupts and the breath of God quickens the story of Genesis in the lives of men and women. Some have known this… some have yet to know this. But regardless, here is revealed both the power of God and the wisdom – the Sophia of God.
Paul observes, “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
I am alpha and omega, said Jesus; the beginning and the ending. She completes what God will do…
2011 Come and Follow Me
2014 Folly of God