Holy is the Name I know
Good Friday, April 6, 2012 - Christ Church (Parish) Church - Fredericton, New Brunswick
The Reverend Anthony Kwaw, Rector of Fredericton
The Reverend Canon Jim Irvine, Guest Homilist
« We approach the Cross
« Forgive them
« You will be with me
« I thirst
« Into your hands
We are fearfully and wonderfully made. And nothing seems more fearful or wonderful than the hands that we have been given. Youthful hands, adolescent hands, adult hands, elderly hands – our hands have helped give expression to our deepest desires as well as our loftiest aspirations. Our hands have been clenched in anger and they have clasped in supplication. Our hands have compassionately wiped away a tear of a frightened child and our hands have brought a spoon full of soup to the lips of an invalid. Our hands have enabled us to love and nourish and console. Our hands have held a Prayer Book when we have known the words by heart and our hands have raised a Host to our tongue and guided a Cup to our lips when we have found ourselves especially mindful of Jesus.
Sometimes hands have inflicted pain and such moments cause us embarrassment. Hands have given expression to cruel and hateful feelings as others have borne the proud flesh of our indifference. Hands have cared for wounds endured in the heat of the moment. What one hand undoes, another hand repairs.
Others hands have dealt with us and for this some are secretive. Fear of judgment and punishment is learned from the hands of others. Abuse encountered in misplaced affection is borne at the hands of a familiar. We learn trust at the hands of others and we learn to mistrust as well.
A child’s hands begin to learn almost as soon as legs can navigate. The image of young children grasping the extended finger of a parent is a wonderful sight. The up-stretched arm and the short fingers holding a finger provides a vision of innocence that we might all respond to. In time, the child becomes the father of the man and the opportunity is reversed as a new parent offers a finger eagerly accepted by a new generation.
I know that to be true. As my Dad went with me for walks, I too have extended my index finger to my daughters and my son, each in their turn. Now I present my index finger to my grandson, Connor. Every generation begins to entrust themselves in the hands of another.
Jesus entrusted himself in the hands of his Father. The image is close to our experience. The metaphor cannot be ignored. As Jesus expressed his trust in the moment of Redemption, we can also take heart by what we hear in this final gesture – Into your hands.
For all that we might do… for all that we have done… for all that we may regret… as failing as our hands have been, Jesus words encourage us to see beyond our failures, abuses and exploitations to reclaim and restore the sense of trust that is inherent in the innocence of placing our hand in the hand of another.
That occasion may find us at the bedside of another whose breath is too shallow to speak and whose strength can hardly support the weight of an arm. But strength and comfort are found when another’s hand is placed in ours and we can bear them up.
That occasion may be found as we stand at a chancel step and take in our hand the hand of our beloved – when trusting in another allows us to enter a future together.
Hands are an agent for grace. The priest takes the Host and raising it, breaks the Bread as he stands at the altar. A wonderful vision is afforded the priest who presides at the altar in this place.
I have been privileged to stand behind the altar and as I have raised the Host and Broken it, the vision of Redemption first discloses the figure of the head of Our Lord crowned with thorns – reminding me that Jesus died for my forgiveness. Then, beyond the figure on the altar and as my hands separate the pieces of Bread further, I see you, kneeling – those for whom Jesus died, those for whom forgiveness was promised.
There is a Jewish Midrash that tells us that the Breaking of Bread is no less a miracle than the Dividing of the Waters when Moses led the Children of Israel out of bondage. I believe that to be true. I have seen it. I have seen it here.
Before the Host is placed in your hand… before the Cup is pressed to your lips… the miracle of Redemption is continuingly realized as operative in our lives. Into your hands, Jesus is heard to speak to his Father. His trust in God’s providence draws a ministry to a close… and to a new beginning.
Who can tell how many crosses…
still to come, or long ago…
Crucify the King of Heaven…
Holy is the Name I know.
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