Children of the Resurrection.
I write these words as we approach the end of Good Friday and I am still in a reflective mood. The question I am pondering?
“What does Good Friday mean?”
Of course it means an enormous amount to Christians but we have allowed something to influence the story of Holy Week and Easter that is not altogether wholesome.
First: we have sanitised Good Friday and everything related to the Cross.
Secondly we have placed the Cross and the history of Good Friday into a post modern, saccharine coated world where the events on Calvary have been bowdlerised as much as the Nativity.
This thinking was first triggered by a Tweet from Canon J John when he said:
“Christians are an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.”
Before I say another word let me confess that I think J John is an inspirational church leader and I encourage you all to visit his site. http://www.philotrust.com/
But he’s wrong on this one!
My first contention is that Good Friday, and the first Easter, is a historical event. Christ was taken arrested, tortured and executed. Subsequently He was buried and rose from the dead. This is history. I hold this to be a fact.
No Christian should have a problem with this contention: Good Friday was a historical event. It happened, and it’s finished! Yet so many have a maudlin approach that encourages a reliving of the event – in the Philippines folk are temporarily crucified – it’s like a Civil War re enactment! It is time we accepted the historical truth of Our Lord’s death and embrace the truth that comes from it.
To do this we first need to understand the reality of what happened on that Friday nearly 2,000 years ago. The Christian Church and much of Western Civilisation have sanitised the events of the cross. The images we have shown is of a “noble” man with minimal damage to his body and a loin cloth protecting His modesty. The bible tells a different story: Christ was beaten so badly that He was unrecognisable, see Isaiah 53, read how Simon the Cyrene was forced to carry the cross.
Jesus was so weak, so broken, that He could not carry the cross. The story of Good Friday is a story of abuse and brutality.
When we look at the representations of His suffering we are influenced by painters, such as Valezquez, or media, Robert Powell on TV. All of those portrayals are a nonsense, do not believe them.
In churches and, I suggest, in popular mythology we depict Christ crucified on a Gold, maybe brass, cross between two candles set on a white linen cloth.
The truth is that our Lord is nailed to a cross of roughly hewn wood, has been tortured for the amusement of the guards. He suffers all of the pain and naked indignation of crucifixion and He dies in excruciating agony.
He accepts this torture and embraced death because He wants to save us. Through His sacrifice we are offered the chance of redemption.
Good Friday was a bloody awful day for Jesus!
While I enjoy the liturgy and public demonstrations, Passion Plays etc., that commemorate the dreadful events of that first Eater I fear that they have lost connection with the historical fact of the event.
The fact is Good Friday happened a long time ago and it will never happen again. Today, as we remember Our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice we must also remember what happens on Easter Sunday. As we thank Christ for His Good Friday sacrifice we need to rejoice at His bursting from the tomb.
We are not tomb dwellers, we do not live in a Good Friday world; there is no Good Friday world. We are children of the resurrection We know the end game and we rejoice in it.
Of course it is easy to embrace the idea of a “Good Friday world”; we live in a world of sin and hurt. Of course we need to accept the fact that the sin and hurt is real but we must also accept that the resurrection gives us new hope.
How can that work out in the “real” world; well if you live in the “Good Friday World” you see the murders of those brave guys in Afghanistan only as a source of grief. In Warminster we are still feeling that grief. The Children of the Resurrection also share that grief; at the same time they honour the selfless commitment to duty of the men and women who choose to serve us.
On a personal level; every week I attend a local clinic for treatment. All of us there are in various degrees of physical failure. Some of us will die sooner than we would like. It could easily become a place of gloom and despondency, but it’s not. It’s a place of hope, love and care. A place to celebrate vocation. It is not in the Good Friday World; it’s in the Resurrection world.
It’s the world of Jesus; the Risen Lord. He rose nearly two thousand years ago; every day since has been a Resurrection day. Only one day in history was Good Friday when, by his one oblation of himself once offered, He saved the world. Since then every day has been Easter!
“What does the Good Friday mean?”
It means Hope, Sacrifice and Salvation. But only because it leads to Easter Sunday; the day that makes sense of Good Friday.
I belong to an Easter People, a Resurrection People. We honour Good Friday, we kneel at the cross and, more importantly, we lift our eyes to heaven and every day declare.
“Alleluia He is risen.”
Have a joyful Easter.