Good Friday

Good Friday 2015                                                          

April 3, 2015

In the name of God, hung on a cross, and dying for each one of us.  Amen.

There’s a wealth of paradoxes surrounding the very human death of God on a Roman cross. 

As Charles Wesley wrote more than 200 years ago,

Tis mystery all!  The immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine.
Tis mercy all!  Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

Wesley is playing with mystery and paradox that make no apparent sense to us, but that instead demand stunned silence –even awe.  Wesley jumps from head to heart as he allows paradox to overwhelm him and propel him into God’s heart.  He writes:  Amazing love!  How can it be, that thou, my God, should die for me?”  [Charles Wesley, “And can it be?”, lyrics in the public domain]

Our account of Jesus’ suffering and death according to John makes some of these paradoxes pretty blatant.  The creator and ruler of the Cosmos stands on trial before a petty Roman governor.  The King of All dies the death of a disgraced rabble-rouser, with the banner “Here is the King of the Jews” over his head.  The immortal God dies a human death on a cross.

Listen to how this short reflection from a Byzantine liturgy adds some paradoxes to the mix.  [Suzanne Guthrie, Edge of the Enclosure, Passion (1), quoting the Lenten Triodion, translated from the original Greek,]

“A dread and marvelous mystery we see come to pass this day.  He whom none may touch is seized; he who looses Adam from the curse is bound.  He who tries our hearts and inner thoughts is unjustly brought to trial.  He who closed the abyss is shut in prison.  He before whom the powers of heaven stand with trembling, stands before Pilate; the Creator is struck by the hand of a creature.  He who comes to judge the living and the dead is condemned to the cross; the Destroyer of hell is enclosed in a tomb.”

May we allow these kinds of things that make no sense on their surface to propel us into God’s own heart.  May our tendency to live our lives from our intellects be confounded by the crucifixion of God and the opening of everlasting life to all who seek it. 

May we make room for him in our hearts.  And as an encouragement here is a recent piece written by a luminary in the Christian community:

"Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome Him as a friend with trust: He is life!
 If up until now you have kept Him at a distance, step forward.  He will receive you with open arms.
 If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won't be disappointed.  If following Him seems difficult, don't be afraid, trust Him, be confident that He is close to you, He is with you and He will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as He would have you do."    

 ~  Pope Francis