Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Sermon

Save me, O God, for the waters have risen up to my neck. I am sinking in deep mire, and there is no firm ground for my feet. I have come into deep waters, and the torrent washes over me.
These words are from Psalm 69, which we read at Tenebrae on Wednesday night. As we sat and meditated on the passion of Jesus, my first thoughts with that psalm were all those Japanese affected by the earthquake and then tsunami, and the torrent that washed over them… I think of a picture I saw that week from Japan, of a young woman sitting crying and in the background everything is destroyed.

It connects with me with the women who followed Jesus weeping as he was crucified. Such images show us a deep sense of loss with the feeling that everything had been taken away from them. Anglican priest, author and theologian, Kenneth Leech writes,
“Unless we can identify in some way with this loss of hope, we have not begun to understand the Good Friday experience.”
Good Friday is not just an experience of the past, it is with us still and into this dark day we must travel, for that is where our faith and hope call us to go. Again in Leech’s words:
“This entry into the darkness is the very heart of faith and of hope. To be a Christian at all is to enter this dark night: the night in which we do not know the way but in which God becomes luminously present.”
And on this day, when we journey to the cross once again, remembering those today who suffer too, our faith compels us to not get stuck there in the sense of loss and hopelessness. Rather we need to echo these words:
I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when I am alone.
I believe in God, even when God is silent.
Those words were written by Jews hiding in a cellar in Cologne, Germany during WW II, and they could be words of any of us who stand as witnesses to the cross, in the midst of silence. Uttering words, spoken by others: Where is God in the midst of destruction? Where is God at the cross? The letter to the Hebrews tells us:
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.”
Where is God? God is in the silence, in the darkness. And in the midst of that we are called to be faithful, because God will be faithful, as God has promised and we need to help each other to love & do good deeds. Good Friday is act II of a three act event. Maundy Thursday is Act I ending with Judas betrayal and the disciples abandonment. Act II is the trial, suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus. Act III is well, we’ll get to that…

But for now, in the silence of the cross and the tomb, we remain faithful and hopeful. And I think of these words from the singer/songwriter, Billy Sprague:
In silence so black that I wished for the blues
Every desperate prayer
Seemed like heaven refused.
And some days I found faith meant
Just tying my shoes.
And it was all I could do to press on...
Walk on in the face of the mystery,
Through the night hides the light
Through the darkness till dawn.
Tie your shoes, my dear friend, and press on.
In the darkness of Good Friday, we wait for the dawn. So “Tie your shoes, my dear friends, and press on.” Amen.

No comments: