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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
If we rely only on Mark’s telling of the story of the day we would be left with a question. The question is familiar. In every decade we ask the question ourselves. When I was very young the question was directed to my parents. In our youth we direct the question to friends and playmates. In adulthood the question persists and is redirected perhaps to a spouse or a friend or a neighbour. When we grow old the question seeks clarification from authorities to whom we are subject, a magistrate, a physician or possibly a surgeon. And in our final days and hours we might have the courage to ask God…
An inherent disappointment is rooted in the question, even a feeling of forsakenness. The question seeks a rational justification of a circumstance that is full of emotion.
Mark 15: 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Joseph may well have been driven to distraction by the incessant demands of the young apprentice in the carpentry shop asking the question. Jesus demonstrated that the divine nature had been set aside and that ignorance and curiosity filled the vacuum.
As a child soon to become a man, Jesus questioned the men with long beards in the Temple. They marvelled at his questions. They commended him on his curiosity. Jesus sought to penetrate the mind of God and fathom the purposes that lured him further.
Questions continued to characterize the ministry of the man who stood in the River Jordan. Questions draw us all to further explore our lives and the place God has in our lives. Some questions are inevitable. Some are uncomfortable. Some are avoided to our peril.
Not all questions have a tidy answer and the silence that follows thunders in our hearing. Such thundering silence was heard on the heights of a hill outside the City wall as darkness swept in to fill the hours. In that darkness the question would have been on the lips of other men who felt godforsaken in their depth of despair. Some would have embellished the question with blasphemies. Others would have raged to the darkened skies making fists they could no longer wave. The question would have been asked in a tone of anger… or possibly resignation… or desperation… or fatality.
Jesus asked the question. For all of his sense of purposefulness – that led him to drink from this Cup – even he felt forsaken by God. As sacrificial lambs were slain across the valley in the precincts of the Temple Mount, bleating was echoed in the humanity of Jesus’ question.
Healing… Peace… Love… these are qualities we do not associate with the aspirations of desperate felons. They are receiving their just reward, we say. The consequences of their nefarious actions have set a course that has led them to perdition. The healing of the nations is not sought after by these men. Thieves, murderers, rapists do not seek peace that will not end. Such associations seem misplaced with human jurisprudence.
Calloused by this world, we find it difficult to begin to recognize the beginnings of Paradise regained. Jesus’ presence transforms a place reserved for death and indignity. He allows for grace to mend brokenness among those least likely to deny their brokenness.
Our Sacramental practice reminds us of the redemptive power of Jesus’ covenantal love: “May we, who share his body, live his risen life; we, who drink his cup, bring life to others; we, whom the Spirit light, give light to the world.”
The despair of others is addressed by the cloth we become as we are woven together; the wood of the loom was carried by Jesus to a place where broken lives provided the threads of a new fabric. Threads broken and unravelled are gathered together and a design begins to appear as variegated threads become the warp and weft of a new garment. The yarn of humanity spun out in time is knit together. The pattern is set. The imagery is restorative.
We will share his body in our Easter Communion. Maundy Thursday and these hours of Good Friday will be rehearsed again. Our prayer will be that we will live his risen life. Our corporate witness becomes a new garment. We will drink his cup and our prayer is that in so doing we will bring life to others. As the Paschal Candle is ignited, reminding us of our baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection, we pray that we will give light to a path others trod.
The unfathomable question of Why begins to find its clarity beyond ourselves and beyond our own anxiety. As we lead new lives in Christ we go far beyond the cliché of being born again and begin to mature in a disciples’ witness. As we drink his cup our disciples’ witness matures in an apostolic faith. As a baptised people each becomes a light to lighten the path of another whose way is dark and way uncertain.
Jesus is counted amongst the refuse of the Empire. And God’s presence persists in the face of Jesus’ Covenant question. The peace of God passes all understanding – we know the phrase and here we see the reality. This Shalom, beginning here, will not end.
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