I fear in the dark and the doubt of my
But courage will come with the sound of your steps by my side,
It is finished.
enabled him to explore the unfolding mystery of redemption. A
journey begun at the foundation of the world – according to
John’s estimate – now finds itself in the darkened afternoon of
a Passover Friday with a Pascal Moon illuminating the scene. Is
this what it was for? As voices were silenced haphazardly
across the hilltop, Jesus is left with the resignation, “It is
wouldn’t have been robust. Distant ears would have missed it.
Few ears would have caught it. “It is finished.”
move. A tongue cloying to the roof of a mouth diminishes the
clarity. But the resolution is there: “It is finished.”
And so much
of what is accomplished in this unfolding drama of redemption is
missed on us. We confine his thin utterance to a distant time
and place. We do not allow Jesus’ words to find us where we
are. Golgotha is a time out of synch with our time and a place
that is so far removed from us.
accomplished is the cutting of a New Covenant that we have
failed to recognize. Our preference is for cliché and slogan
and our preoccupation is with Jesus having died on the cross for
us. We prefer an observation to a promise, and forgetting a
Covenant, we are ignorant of the Promise.
“The time is
coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with
Israel and Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with
their forefathers when I took them by the hand and led them out
of Egypt. Although they broken my covenant, I was patient with
them,” says the Lord. “But this is the covenant that I will
make with Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will set
my law within them and write it on their hearts; I will become
their God and they shall become my people. No longer need they
teach one another to know the Lord; all of them, high and low
alike, shall know me,” says the Lord, “for I will forgive their
wrong-doing and remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah, Jesus at last says, “It is finished.” It is
accomplished. Forgiveness has been promised. A Promise has
been made. A Covenant has been cut.
pastoral ministry as a parish priest the Burial of a Christian
was typically and characteristically observed with the Table
Sacrament that gives us the assurance of our relationship with
God. Grief is addressed and hope assured in light of an
evangelical Promise first realized on the heights of Golgotha.
years ago I led a father with preschool children to the open
grave of a wife and mother. In the church where we had met at
Jesus’ Table only moments earlier, we had been fed with the
Bread of Heaven, the Cup of Salvation. A widower knelt and was
fed, and his young children kneeling beside him, wide-eyed,
confused, distracted and alarmed, looked into my face as I knelt
on one knee and extended my hand in blessing. Neighbours, and
friends and co-workers joined them in this simple act of
nurturing. They entered into a Promise and claimed the Promise
as their own.
As we stood
around the grave, the casket rested on the straps waiting to be
lowered and covered.
assembly gathered close to Don and his children and in that
gathering Jesus was present. Earth was cast on the bier and the
final blessing said.
the church, the wind caught my funeral cape. I turned and
looked back at Don. He held one child in his arms and two
hugged his legs. Friends drew close and shook his hand while
others stretched to give him a kiss. As I looked, I am sure
that the wind that filled my cloak brought to my hearing: “It is
indeed – and only just begun.
I fear in the
dark and the doubt of my journey,
will come with the sound of your steps by my side…
Father, into your hands I
commend my spirit.