Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday: love so amazing, so divine

 

Good Friday
The Collects
Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Epistle
Hebrews 10.1-25
The law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect: for then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt-offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein, (which are offered by the law;) then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God: he taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his foot-stool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love, and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
The Gospel
St. John 19.1-37
Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews: and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgement-hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgement-seat, in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified: and they took Jesus, and led him away.

And he, bearing his cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross; and the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written.

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath-day, (for that sabbath-day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
John brings us, through the depiction of the utter serenity of Jesus, to a point of silence. For Mark, Jesus is the Son of God; for Matthew, He is the King; for Luke, Jesus is the Saviour. But for John, this is the Lamb of God who goes to the slaughter like the animals in Hebrews, ritually bled so that no drop of blood remains in him but is poured on the ground.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, who was with Him at and since the creation of the world, to die the agonising death of a cursed criminal. The cross that killed the Son of God blotted out our every sin: that which was torture for Him was a sweet gift to us – the path to eternal life.

On this Good Friday, take a moment to meditate upon the man hanging upon that cross. Consider that our every selfish thought, our pride, our fits of anger, our lies, jealousy, greed and intolerance drove those nails into His feet and hands. Even in His deepest agony, he was forgiving us.

The death of Christ brought his disciples to the very depths of despair: they were abandoned, mocked and disillusioned. And yet they possessed within their hearts the peace which passes all understanding: an assurance, a hope that their time of testing might pass and that the curse of death might be conquered.

They did not know; they believed.

And the message they believed has been central to the Christian faith for almost 2000 years. It is one that has continually to be reinforced at times of stress, despair and danger; the moments when faith is tested and the will to overcome is undermined. This is why Good Friday is so central in its symbolism: the descent of darkness, the portents of destruction, the expiry of vision and hope. It is the Good Friday that comes to every person at different times, when failure robs life of all meaning, joy and love. It is the collapse of enterprise, confidence, relationships and dignity. It is the descent into Hell.

Christians endure what Josephus referred to as ‘that most wretched of deaths’ on Good Friday because of the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection: it sustains them through the despair. But this life does not promise the joy and ecstasy of Easter: that is for another place. All we can expect on earth is to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness: the world will hate us, but it hated Him first.

Today is a time to reflect, remember, re-enact how our sin brought Jesus to his death on Calvary and what that death meant for our sinfulness and redemption. How can we not be grateful? Love so amazing, so divine, demands our souls, our lives, our all.

13 Comments:

Blogger MFH said...

amen and amen

29 March 2013 at 11:50  
Blogger David B said...

Having a head of state who is also the head of your church, bishops in the House of Lords, charitable status more or less a given for religious organisations.....

Persecution?

Regret that those led astray by superstition waste time in praying without avail, and often believing false physics and biology as well as false metaphysics. Further regret that their superstitions sometimes lead to illiberal policies, like the persecution of their co-religionists as well a the more enlightened.

Hate?

Bit hyperbolic today, Your Grace, don't you think on consideration?

David

29 March 2013 at 12:07  
Blogger Peter Damian said...

Deus meus, ex toto corde paenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum,
eaque detestor, quia peccando,
non solum poenas a te iuste statutas promeritus sum,
sed praesertim quia offendi te,
summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris.
Ideo firmiter propono,
adiuvante gratia tua,
de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.
Amen.

29 March 2013 at 12:14  
Blogger Brian West said...

Archbishop Justin spoke about the crucifixion on Thought For The Day on Radio 4 today, but did not mention that the Lord Jesus died for our sins. Since he knows that perfectly well, why, I wonder, did he choose not to mention it?

Brian

29 March 2013 at 14:10  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I See His Blood Upon the Rose
by Joseph Mary Plunkett (1887-1916)

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of His eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice -- and carven by His power
Rocks are His written words.

All pathways by His feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

29 March 2013 at 14:30  
Blogger IanCad said...

A wonderful post YG.

29 March 2013 at 18:05  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

A very good homily on this Good Friday.

29 March 2013 at 18:16  
Blogger Preacher said...

I bow my head in in humble adoration at the love, grace & mercy of God in Christ reconciling a fallen world of sinful men, myself included. By His death on that terrible Cross.
Amen.

29 March 2013 at 20:11  
Blogger len said...

A time to reflect.

His Cross is our cross and it is at the foot of the cross that we are reconciled to God .
He took our sins and bore the punishment for us that we might go free from the captivity of sin and be re- united with our creator.
What a cost to Him and what love He has shown to His creation that God became One with us that we might become One with Him.

29 March 2013 at 21:23  
Blogger Irene's Daughter said...

David B seems to have misread this article. HG did not write about the Church of England, he wrote about Jesus.

And if he doesn't know anything about the hatred shown to and persecution of Christians in 2013 may I suggest that he looks at one or more of these websites -

www.persecution.com
www.barnabasfund.org
www.releaseinternational.org

And as he reads to consider that all each man, woman and child has to do to stop their suffering is to deny Jesus. Very few do! Would David B be so willing to suffer for his faith in the sciences?

Jesus was mocked as He hung upon that cross. He is mocked today. But His love for broken humanity still rings around the world and will still be doing so until and after He returns again to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

David B, like all those who have mocked Him down the centuries, will soon be forgotten. And his precious science will be shown for the empty hope that it brings to the people of this world.

Read HG again Mr. B.. And then go out and buy a Bible - read it and discover the truth about the 'Man who is God' that you are so keen to dismiss.

30 March 2013 at 00:54  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thank you, Your Grace --- and for an excellent (and accurate) homily for what always strikes me as the holiest of days.

Those who revile Christ, especially today, do nothing new or clever, of course: they merely echo those who crucified Him originally. In any age, though, a decent human being may have trouble in knowing what fun there is in joining a mob that jeers and spits at the victim of such torture ... regardless of who the object of their scorn might be.

But they are too blind to see the extent of even their physical sickness - let alone any relationship between that and their souls. And we have Christ's own solution to the problem to guide us: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

For myself, I am also grateful to the writer of "The Dream of the Rood," who (with St. John) suggested how to thank the Saviour for the healing power, the salve of the Crucifixion. They help me to understand the resolution of the paradox - the Sacrifice that transforms the greatest evil into the Greatest Good.

30 March 2013 at 02:11  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Irene's Daughter: "Would David B be so willing to suffer for his faith in the sciences?"

You're equivocating with 'faith' there. Deliberately too , I expect. The sciences don't give a hoot whether people have 'faith' in them. Science is a methodology, and the phenomena it relates to just is. I'd be quite willing to deny electricity to an Inquisitor in public whilst knowing I have a 9V battery powering my smoke alarm back home. Whatever floats his boat.

30 March 2013 at 06:10  
Blogger len said...

Science is good(well fairly good ) at finding facts it is totally out of its depth when it come to discovering reality.

30 March 2013 at 17:08  

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