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
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my
name be known,
in you and you in me?
Our pilgrimage only begun, we pause. An echo of deferred absolution reaches our ears. Some hear it clearer than others. Some don’t catch the phrase at all. There are some who are close enough to have heard Jesus’ petition that they are able to confidently bear witness to others of us who are incredulous.
News spreads among our number, “Father, forgive them,” he said. As darkness overtakes Golgotha and the City, as winds pick up, fear sweeps over those close to the summit. Some of us have walked faster than others and have reached the summit. The wind brought eddies of dust and some shelter their faces with their arms – an attempt to keep the dust from their eyes. No longer sheltered by the leeward side of the Hill the firmament of Heaven, some are met with the confusion of the moment.
Could they have heard it correctly? The Nazarene pleads with His Father. “Father, forgive them.” This is a needful event in the redemption of creation and what these Temple Officials have clamoured for cannot be held against them. What the Governor resolved as he sat in judgment cannot be held against him. What these centuries of Rome effect on this height outside the City wall cannot be held against them. “They do not know what they are doing!”
The Works of the Lord extend to the cutting of a New Covenant and in these dark hours needful events that accomplish God’s purpose warrant absolution. All of Creation lends its voice in a chorus echoed by the Angelic Host. Voices cry out from occupants of crosses covering this place. The wind muffles cries at once blasphemous and pious. The conversations amongst those standing guard are added while orders shouted to insult and inflame find Latin and Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in a linguistic anthem. Angelic voices? Perhaps.
And while Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive”, fall on our hearing, cheeks are moistened – gradually. A drop at a time. Tears? Rain? All of nature joins in the orchestration and as Jesus’ cheek is washed by a salty tear, water from above the heavens begins to wash as well and anticipates his death, and anoints his body for burial.
All of Creation ministers to Jesus, and us as we approach and find ourselves closer perhaps than we would like. “Father, forgive” – those in costume and vesture different from our styles today – but not forgiveness for them alone. Forgiveness for us as well. And forgiveness for those whose actions have left a legacy of confusion and doubt.
Carved in the stone behind the stone altar of Coventry Cathedral, left in ruins after the Germans rained a firestorm on an unsuspecting city in the Second World War is the phrase Jesus gave expression to: “Father, forgive”.
Father, forgive the decision of Winston Churchill not to warn the City of Coventry. Father, forgive those who did not rush to intercede the sacrifice of such as were at jeopardy in this City. Jesus’ pleading speaks to those close at hand and far away. Jesus’ pleading speaks of needful things where the cost of redemption is high. As tears and rain intermingled on Golgotha, tears and rain ran together as firemen and constables and members of the Home Guard dug through rubble and bricks after the night of bombing. In both instances darkness and cries and oaths ran together. They still do.
And, as you hear Jesus’ plea, Will you let his love be shown?
God does not avoid needful things in the accomplishing of his redemptive love. It is His love that finds expression in what we might otherwise wish to avoid or evade. As each nail pierced Jesus’ flesh we are filled with revulsion and we would avoid it, and often do. Suffering is intolerable and we fail to see the needful, purposeful components of this New Covenant that is being cut.
Over the chalice Jesus told his disciples, “Drink this, all of you: this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” His words of Institution gave liturgical meaning to the meal he shared with them the night before. Christian iconography has recognized that what was anticipated on Maundy Thursday was actuated on Golgotha – where many have imagined another Chalice collecting his blood.
Jesus’ resolve in being obedient to the Father helps us understand Him better. We catch a glimpse of Jesus’ love. Will you let his name be known? Will you let his life – a life intent on our redemption and the promise of forgiveness inherent in this New Covenant – will you let his life be grown in you and you in me?
Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, and to be sung and glorified forever.
Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, you heavens; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, all you waters above the heavens; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Song of the Three Holy Children vv 34-38
The Good Friday Series...
2011 Come and Follow Me
Midi Tune: Kelvingrove