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
I am thirsty.
Will you kiss the leper clean
and do such as this unseen,
in you and you in me?
Appetites are a constant companion and our appetites make demands that are relentless. The discipline of our pilgrimage this afternoon makes demands that give us some discomfort – seldom are we constrained by a period of three hours. We are used to interrupt even a busy day with a break that allows for our gratification.
Again Jesus gives voice from the Cross and some catch his phrase, “I am thirsty.” These are familiar words and on the surface, clear. A Roman Guard misunderstands Jesus’ intent and dips a sponge in cheap wine and raises the libation to Jesus’ lips. Cracked and dry from the day’s torment, the sour liquid would sting. Moistened lips perhaps – but thirst was not slaked.
Retracing our steps on the familiar path, some pause to reflect on Jesus’ phrase. Some barely heard it. Some didn’t hear it at all. His lips moved imperceptibly and his tongue was thick and dry. The wind carried his words. “I am thirsty.”
As life ebbs away in this wasteland all of creation responds with life springing from the bowls of the earth. Natural springs erupt and flow from a height and wash a hillside as water begins to sing in brooks and join water courses. Rivers glory in their journey to the sea where tides and waves join a rhythm of life and renewal.
Life supported in fresh water and in the seas – titanic monsters of the deep and whales join in the chorus while birds of the air – song birds as well as the carrion birds of Golgotha – join their voices and sing.
But while creation erupts with springs and brooks and streams and rivers, Jesus was looking beyond a beverage. The Roman Guard responded out of his personal experience and while he demonstrated compassion, he nonetheless mistook a moment of human appetite.
Before Jesus’ arrest he shared a meal with his closest disciples. The Twelve joined him in an upper room and during the course of the meal, “Jesus took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” We rely on the evangelical record here. Jesus does not lose sight of the redemptive activity that he is engaged in.
Jesus went on to add, “I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Jesus anticipates an opportunity when we all – by extension – will be with Him in the Kingdom. It is not a solitary libation, taken in isolation. It is a celebratory gathering and he yearns for the imminent coming of that opportunity. While he expresses his thirst, he nonetheless knows when he will quench it.
We have an insight here. We have a glimpse of Jesus’ impatience for the realization of the Kingdom. We discover Jesus’ intemperance as he is on the threshold of a New Age. The page is about to turn and in the turning Jesus is thirsty for the Kingdom… for the New Wine flowing in the Messianic Banquet… for the fellowship of God’s New Creation – you and me – as we gather with him. What we find at the altar rail in this holy place is but a pale anticipation of what Jesus thirsted for. The Communion we share as a Faith Community is promised as a greater Feast enjoyed by all those who are incorporated in Christ by Baptism.
Jesus’ thirst goes beyond a sponge. His thirst is not for a cheap wine of Roman Soldiers on duty. He gives expression to a deeper reality and those who are beneficiaries of his ministry know full well his thirst to gather us at his Table. In his Kingdom we are promised a seat. Some care where they might sit. James and John may sit at his left and at his right. No matter. We will have a seat. Lepers will have a seat and others unclean in our eyes, they will have a seat. They will sit with us. Will you kiss them with the kiss of peace? Will you welcome others that Jesus’ fellowship may extend beyond us and include others?
Jesus’ expressed thirst demonstrates his desire to be in a Table Fellowship with you – and me. We are called to exalt in what His Passion – His Love – means in our lives. May we have the freedom to drink deeply of His new wine. New wineskins await us. The longing He has is a longing we share.
Bless the Lord, all that grows in the ground; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, seas and rivers; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, you springs; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, you whales and all that swim in the waters; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, all birds of the air; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Song of the Three Holy Children vv 54-58
The Good Friday Series...
2011 Come and Follow Me
Midi Tune: Kelvingrove