As I said on my blog earlier this week, Eastertide is one of those times when I think of absent friends and family, whyever they are absent. One of the people I miss, of course, is Jessica, the founder of this blog. Some things are not in our hands, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember what we have learned from them. Back in 2013, Jessica wrote a meditation on Good Friday for NEO that I found very moving. Some of you may not have seen it, and reading it again will hurt none of us, so here it is. [Neo]
We call it ‘Good Friday’. The altar in my church is stripped bare, and the crucifix is covered, and we leave with the smoke from the extinguished candles filling the gloom of an English spring afternoon; with temperatures stuck next to freezing, the shivers could have a number of causes; but meditating on the Passion of Our Lord is enough. The sense of sorrow is an echo of that first Friday at Calvary, and it is hard to know, at that moment what is ‘good’ about it.
But when we stop in prayer and think, we can see precisely what is good. It is the day on which all our sins are loaded on the Lamb of God, when He takes upon His shoulders your sins and mine. What wonder is this? What have we done to be so rewarded? How can this be? What wondrous love is this? Good? Yes, the best news mankind ever had or ever will have. Whatever confessional allegiances divide us, I like to feel on this day of all days, the Cross of Christ unites us.
I leave it to all the clever men to explain what in my heart I know is simple. Christ loves me. He loves us all. He did what He did, He suffered what He suffered willingly. He knew if would be terrible, and He would have preferred it if it had been otherwise; but that makes it all the more precious.
The American expression ‘when the rubber hits the road’ comes to mind. This is where our salvation was earned, and not by us. With every nail that was hammered in, as with every stripe He bore for us, we are being saved. If we find those sufferings horrible, we should know that is how God finds our sins; God did something about it – what are we doing?
It was through the breaking of that body on the Cross, and the spilling of that blood that we see what He meant on the evening of the Last Supper. His Body was broken for us; His blood spilled for us. Some of us believe that at the Eucharist we receive His Body and Blood as He said; others that it is in memory of Him. Well, Good Friday is no time to rehearse what divides us – yet more stripes we apply to His back. It is a time for prayer and contemplation.
Mine is that for all of us, the Spirit of Christ may be with us this Easter, and that we may know Him as Lord, and worship Him and be thankful for what He has done for us. What did we do to earn it? Nothing. What can we do to be worthy of it? Just heed His call to repent and follow Him in belief that He is the Christ.
In the shadow of the Cross we kneel and pray and give thanks – we are redeemed through His suffering. As the ancient hymn has it, let all mortal flesh keep silent. He has saved us. It is Good Friday – be sad and yet rejoice.