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Good Friday 2013
Christ Church (Parish) Church
Fredericton, New Brunswick
March 29, 2013 12 Noon - 3:00 p.m.
The Reverend Anthony Kwaw
Rector of Fredericton
The Reverend Canon Jim Irvine
We approach the Cross
Our Good Friday observance has had us tread familiar paths that have brought us together again. Many of us have been here before. For some, this may be your first opportunity to experience Good Friday and to listen to the words attributed to Jesus the day he died.
The Watch by the Cross allows us to keep vigil for the last Three Hours that Jesus was on the Cross. Tradition is a cherished hallmark among Anglicans and our discipline today finds us in the ranks of faithful communicants that have tread these paths before.
Praise and prayer will support the familiar words of Jesus, as before. And over the course of the next three hours meditations on each of the phrases that were heard on the lips of our Lord will help focus our thoughts.
I have had the privilege to stand here before. The space is familiar to me. Many of your faces are familiar to me. The lyrics of the hymns we will sing are familiar as well, as are the anthems the choir has rehearsed. The prayers are familiar and we are well acquainted with the phrases that the Evangelists penned – phrases that will be refreshed by their being revisited.
Today is familiar in so many ways we might easily be deceived into thinking that there is nothing new here for us. We might carelessly think that what we find here is a classic vain repetition of a piety of a bygone day.
But the opportunity Father Anthony Kwaw has afforded me – to return as the homilist – the opportunity has shown me that there is no vain repetition found here. While the phrases are unaltered, along with the lyrics of our praise and the petitions of our prayers, the impact differs from one reading to the next. We have not remained the same. As life impacts each of us, we encounter familiar material with a freshness that allows the Spirit of God to touch us afresh.
The events of Good Friday provide an evangelical witness that proclaims good news for those that have ears to hear. Jesus’ arrest and subsequent trials – first before Pilate and then Herod – and the sentencing by the Roman Authority led inexorably to a height outside the City wall. The accounts of the Gospels record Jesus’ public scourging and his bearing his cross beam through the streets and threading the city Gate out into a wilderness beyond the civility of a City bursting with the excitement of a Passover celebration.
Punishment we might call it. The swollen proud flesh glistening with perspiration and blood from his wounds confirm our suspicions. We perceive the tired countenance of Jesus’ face, along with other felons parading to the Green Hill not too far away as certain punishment.
Our reflections this afternoon will address our error in perception and recognize the evangel – good news that is proclaimed on a dreadful height.
Our Sacramental practice finds its genesis in the extended weekend engaging us. In Baptism we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. Saint Paul is quick to remind us that if Jesus is not risen then we are still held captive to our sin. As much as we might misunderstand his death as a punishment, if Jesus were not to have shed his blood on Golgotha then we would also remain captive to our sin. Our baptism exults in the veracity of the events of these days.
And returning here – or some other holy place – the morning of Easter Day to share in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Table we revisit the encounter of Jesus with his disciples before he led them to Gethsemane by the light of the Passover Moon. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? We revisit a continuingly redemptive expression of God’s love. The pledge and assurance of that love will be found in our hands and drawn close to our lips recalling the currency of a faith that has nourished and strengthened the hungry and weak and broken in every age.
By the guidance of the Holy Spirit our charismatic conviction will be renewed, and strengthened. Not for our benefit. But for the benefit of those to whom we will be sent in an apostolic expression of ministry.
Helping me here I will rely on the lyrics of a hymn penned by William Whitla. The hymn is found in our hymn book, Common Praise. The hymn will provide a lens through which we will see streams of living justice flow down upon the earth. From the heights of Calvary streams of natural aquifers mingled with his blood will find water courses giving freedom’s light to captives.
Justice is found on this dreadful day. That which is broken will be made whole; those that are poor will discover a worth that is just. Jesus’ instruction to the disciples of John the Baptist is wrought on the anvil of redemption. Isaiah’s words are not only heard but may be seen to be operative: “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, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”
2011 Come and Follow Me