Come and follow me...
le chemin de Jérusalem
Good Friday - April 22, 2011
The Three-Hour Watch by the Cross
Christ Church (Parish) Church
Westmorland Street, Fredericton
The Reverend Anthony Kwaw
Canon Jim Irvine
download the PDF files
Order of Service - booklet
Meditations - booklet
The Summons - theme hymn
Le chemin de Jérusalem
The Way to Jerusalem
Will you come and follow me
if I but call your
and never be the same?
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. The hour of our gathering has been set by the evangelists. And while some of us are observing the Watch by the Cross for the first time, many of us have been here before.
We gather as many did generations ago – those who followed Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem. Some gathered along the streets and some at the Gate of the City while others joined in the wake of the procession that led outside the City Wall to the place of crucifixion.
Some attended out of curiosity with a blood lust for public execution society has witnessed in our history. Others approached with caution, fearing accusations and incriminations.
Today we approach the death of Jesus with devotion and scepticism, contrition and cynicism. Many Christians avoid the Day and busy themselves for the resurrection. Some, knowing the story, spring ahead to a brighter Day.
Our familiarity with the story helps insulate us from the events that will make up the next three hours. We are acquainted with the account of Mark and of the other evangelists as well.
The seven phrases of Jesus are well known to us and none of us will hear words of Jesus we have not heard before. The hymns we will sing are for the most part familiar with the season of Lent and of Good Friday. There are no surprises here.
The rhythm of the Service with prayer and silence, meditation and praise is a pattern of Anglican spirituality that we know well. Over a half century ago I sat with my parents as John Vernon Young guided us through the darkness of the Day. Later, my parents and I sat at the feet of Arthur Caulfeild as he gave voice to the Gospel Account. While I was a student at King’s, I attended St Paul’s Church on Barrington Street when Harold Nutter – then Dean of Fredericton – was the guest homilist who guided us.
My ministry as a priest in this diocese has given me the opportunity to be a voice in the darkness of a Friday afternoon in several parishes. And today I am honoured to be here for my fourth visit.
On each of these occasions I have noted that while voice was given to seven familiar phrases of Our Redeemer, beyond the phrases each journey stood on its own. Each one was different. While Golgotha was visited each year, a different path was found that led the faithful to the summit.
Each one present heard something different, some with greater clarity than others. Some stood closer and had an opportunity to hear something that was missed by another.
This afternoon I invite you to join me as I journey to Jerusalem to witness Jesus’ Passion again. We will trace the path of the great labyrinth of Notre Dame Cathedral in Chartres. You may be familiar with it. Others might know of its replication at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. The pattern is printed on your Good Friday flyer.
The medieval pattern found at Chartres provided the faithful of the day to journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem. While pilgrimage was part of the spiritual awareness of the faithful, the Church moved to enable pilgrimages to be taken when journeys were prohibitive and unsafe.
The Labyrinth was seen as le chemin de Jérusalem. And that is how we will approach it today. We will trace the path and pause from time to time, listening for the words Jesus expresses in the dark that surrounds him… and will surround us. We will begin here, in Fredericton and travel on this road to Jerusalem where we will approach Golgotha.
As this is our pilgrimage we will find that as in any large group travelling together, some will rush on ahead while others may pause to reflect. We will each travel at our own pace but we will advance towards a Temple.
That Temple is mirrored by a work of God on another hill from where Jesus looks into the depths of man’s heart. The cross provides a vantage point that reveals our human condition. With his arms outstretched, Jesus is on the Throne of the cherubim made with carpenter’s hands.
Reigning from his Throne, we have an opportunity to see how close he has come as God to the condition that weighs heavy for each of us. Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Blessed are you, O Lord, God of our ancestors, and to be praised and highly exalted forever;
And blessed is your glorious, holy name, and to be highly praised and highly exalted forever.
Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, and to be extolled and highly glorified forever.
Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne on the cherubim, and to be praised and highly exalted forever.
Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, and to be extolled and highly exalted forever.
Song of the Three Holy Children vv 29-33
The Good Friday Series...
2011 Come and Follow Me
Midi Tune: Kelvingrove