Good Friday: April 14, 2017
Preacher: The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh, Associate Rector of St. Michael’s Church
Today known by Christians across the world as Good Friday, Holy Friday or God’s Friday is the day we commemorate the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we remember how a government used its power to torture and terrorize masses into silent submission With the cross.
Today we like Mary and the disciples gather to mourn the slow murder of God by human hands. On that day, darkness covered the whole earth, And we with all Creation lament the way of the cross as the way of pain and sorrow.
The cross draws our attention to the darker side of humanity–places still sorely hindered by human sin; the wounded parts of our being still longing for release, renewal, reconciliation, rebirth. In the crucified one, we witness the shadows of grief, betrayal, violence, oppression, and injustice. In the crucified one, we witness the shadows of our crosses: shadows of the past we silently ignore; shadows we have created that threaten and harm others; shadows that blind us to what is sacred and right and good.
So why do we Christians call this Friday good?
Walking the way of the cross with Jesus leads us to discover that a joyful faith in the Risen One never loses sight of the Crucified One. There can be no Easter, no resurrection without the cross on Good Friday.
In more practical terms: “There can be no reconciliation without responsibility…no genuine forgiveness, no genuine healing can happen without genuine truth.” We must first face the sorrow and shadows of the cross if we are to embrace what lies beyond it.
Walking the way of the cross means facing the harm done to us, harm done on our behalf, and how we have harmed others. It means telling our story and witnessing witnessing the wounds we create before we can embrace our role in healing ourselves and our world.
Walking the way of the cross means being vulnerable enough to share our darkness, our woundedness with God and others. Only when we face the shadows and nail these to the cross are we free to embrace the loving, liberating, life-giving light born on the cross.
Good Friday signals a radical shift. The way of the cross is more than the way of sorrow and shadows… The way of the cross becomes the way of healing.
On the cross, God in Christ takes into Himself all our grief, all our trials, all our suffering, all our brokenness. In the crucified one, bruises become balm, wounds become healing, sin and death transform from dead ends to doorways into Life.
What was once an instrument of power, torture, and terror becomes an instrument of release, renewal, reconciliation, and rebirth in God.
This is why we call this Friday “Good!”
By his cross, Jesus invites us to unburden ourselves that we might live freely and fully in union with God.
Walking the way of the cross is no walk in the park.
Following Jesus means walking the narrow road of self-denial; this means our lives must shift from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.
Whenever we experience God’s presence in our lives, we are faced with the reality that we are not the center of ourselves; God is.
The more we embrace God as our center, the more the cross becomes ourstaff guiding and supporting us through life’s shadowy trials. (John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mount Carmel)
The more we reject God as our center, the more we feel the rejection of the crowd, the burden of the cross, the piercing nails and crown of thorns.
Progress in our spiritual lives is measured not by how far we have come on the journey, not by how well we deny ourselves or how disciplined we are in our spiritual practices, but by how much space we create for God.
How do we create space for God?
Well, coming to a 3-hour Good Friday service is a great start! Here are some resources from our worship today for creating a God-centered space: We create space for God when we:Read Scripture Sing or listen to sacred music Listen to a sermonSit in silence (even for a few minutes)Pray for others! Communion – receiving Christ’s body and blood in bread and wine we become one with God and each other.Veneration of the cross where we embrace the love and healing of God.The stations of the cross where we imagine and experience walking the way of the cross with Jesus through prayer and meditation
Progress is not measured by the miles we walk with God, but by the depth of our relationship. It’s not how many steps we take, but that each step takes us deeper into God.
The sole purpose of a God-centered life is to continue creating space for God’s holy fire of boundless love to burn within the darkness of our being.
It is not whether we fall or fail in darkness, but when we fall, when we fail, we have the vulnerability to face the cross–the courage to rise again–and the humility to continue the journey–to find and endure trial in all things for love of God.
Scripture speaks of this light born in darkness. In the beginning, the light was present, yet unseen until God called it into being. As long as the universe has existed, light has been. Science teaches that light cannot die or be destroyed. Absolute darkness, the absence of all light cannot exist. Why? Because even in darkness remnants of light persist. Even in the shadow of the cross, light persists.
When we feel utterly forsaken, when burdens of the past become too great, when fear and shame and hate fill our minds and fuel our action (or inaction), remember… just because we cannot see the light does not mean it is not there.
When we fall, when we fail, the wood of the cross is there to kindle the living flame of love within. The cross is there as our staff, our guide, our continual support through the shadows of life’s trials reminding us that:
Hope, crucified in all of us by despair, rises .Reconciliation, crucified in all of us by alienation, rises.Love, crucified in all of us by hatred, rises. Truth, crucified in all of us by lies, rises. (Herbert O’Driscoll’s A Certain Life: Contemporary Meditations on the Way of Christ)
On this Good Friday, we adore you O Christ, and we bless you, by your holy cross you kindle the living flame of love in the darkness of our wounds. Be our deepest center filling all shadows, all sorrows, all time with your presence. May your love and light grow within us to cast out fear and become a hope that knows no bounds. Amen.