Lord Jesus, of you I will sing as I
I’ll tell all my neighbours about you wherever I go.
A Journey begun...
From midday a
darkness fell over the whole land, which lasted until three in
the afternoon. Each year every effort is made to replicate the
scene. The familiar accounts are retold and the faithful and
sceptical, the curious and the cautious gather. In large city
churches or small country chapels distant pews are occupied.
changed, and inasmuch as Jesus’ expiation remains singular, the
perennial duplication has touched generations that have preceded
ours. The story touches us again today.
have their favourite story. Matthew and Luke provide different
accounts. Mark and John tell the story differently as well. For
all of their differences, they each lead us to a Cross on the
heights of a hill outside the city walls of Jerusalem. The
gospels arrive together at Golgotha.
For Mark the
journey has been brief. Jesus set out at the Jordan and his
steps led from the river’s edge where he was baptized to
Golgotha. Matthew and Luke had Jesus begin his journey from
Bethlehem. John, on the other hand, established his point of
departure at the foundation of creation.
journey was seen differently.
And it was
most certainly different from our own experience. For the most
part, few of us have undertaken a journey.
ago now, I found myself at the local bus depot in the city. I
was waiting for the arrival of the bus from Saint John. My son
was on the bus and he was coming for a visit. I arrived at the
depot waiting room early and found it almost deserted. Two or
three people were sitting waiting and as they were without
luggage, I thought that they were waiting for arrivals, as I
was. One was at the ticket counter purchasing a fare. I stood
by the plate glass doors and waited. Over a space of time taxis
arrived and dropped off fares who carried back packs and wheeled
suitcases in past where I was standing.
going to Woodstock, Edmundston perhaps. Possibly Montreal. The
bus would soon arrive. For some this was a point of departure,
while for others it was their destination. But in the growing
crowd some were like me, and I wasn’t going anywhere. I was
staying where I was.
arriving climbed off the bus and retrieved their luggage, while
those departing placed their bags near the yawning doors and
boarded the vehicle. Arrivals and departures might anticipate a
laundry and a resettling, and, after a short period, a return
is familiar to most of us. While I was not embarking on a trip
that evening, like you I have undertaken trips before – and
since. But only recently have I begun to recognize the journey
that I have been on.
and the words attributed to Jesus on this solemn day have served
to help me recognize a journey that I have been on – and
continue to make. For all that the evangelists committed for
posterity, we have taken liberties. And for the liberties taken,
I have placed the Cross at a comfortable distance where I have
prevented Jesus’ words from engaging me in a transformative way.
writing in The Life of Pi, has Pi express with disarming
“I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise
you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make
you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat
story. An immobile story. You want dry, yeastless
factuality.” For far too long words attributed to Jesus have
been just that, flat, immobile, without leaven.
This afternoon, in the darkness that embraces us over the course
of the next few hours I will share glimpses of my journey with
you. I hope that in the course of these meditations we shall
begin to see higher, or further or differently from how we have
in the past. My hope is that we will begin to glimpse a journey
that we have undertaken from the time of our baptism, without
ticket or luggage.
For it seems clear to me that while I was not present on
Golgotha to witness these words for myself, they are far from a
dry, yeastless factuality placed at the distance of two
millennium. These are words that I have heard – and you have
too – if we but pause in our frantic rush of arrivals and
departures and listen.
of you I will sing as I journey.
I’ll tell all
my neighbours about you wherever I go.
Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.