Holy Week Good Friday 2nd April
Good Friday 2nd April
My life was once a dream of potential.
A cry of hope as of yet unheard, but expected.
That first dawn was measured not by its emptiness; the emptiness would be filled gradually with greatness and wonder.
It would not be a future chiselled by should have beens or could have beens but by chances taken.
And then comes survival, that instinct to do in the moment what we think to be the best.
No thought, no planning, just gut instinct, but what if the gut is flawed.
What if we are inspired by the wrong motives, listening to the wrong people, leaning into the wrong influences?
Then the seed dies and the plant grows and all is set and we see the fruition of what we have created in this life.
Looking backwards at what path was taken and what mistakes were made, we see the flaws of our planning so clearly now, but are unsure how we would have done things differently.
But this we know for sure...
It was not meant to be like this.
Welcome to our Good Friday reflection.
Though I suppose it seems weird calling a day that celebrates the death of someone good.
Which has always been the paradox of this day.
If this terrible day could be called good, then maybe the terrible times we live in could be called good, if we reflect on them differently.
Let’s start off by hearing about that first day and let that put everything else in context.
Luke 23: 26-43
Throughout we have There is a green hill far away. Played by harp with Cairy singing.
I love him.
Even as my heart breaks as I watched him die on that cross I realise I will always love him.
Hate him as well.
How can he leave me and the children like this?
His family won’t look after us; my family disowned me when I married that waster.
He would ‘look after us’ that was his promise. He would make sure that we were never left hungry.
Well since he was caught stealing from that caravan we have been hungry every day.
Yet I still love him.
I think his hopes were always bigger than his capabilities.
His dreams always more ambitious than his skills and talents.
Maybe it was his dreams that attracted me to him in the first place.
I got caught up with the romance of what could be.
But then along came the children and he couldn’t handle the responsibility.
The day to day effort of feeding and clothing and watching over them.
So he took shortcuts.
That no good brother of his got his involved with a few scams, ripping off the religious tourists with sacrifice offerings that they had nicked from local farms. It brought in some income and we fed well for a wee while.
But then they heard of this big score, some guy on pilgrimage from Rome and he was bringing in gold to pay for the forgiveness of his sins in the temple. Not many places to hide that amount of money in a caravan, it’s got to be on one or other of the camels.
Who would have thought that the others in the caravan were not family but trained guards? They would have been lynched there and then if it wasn’t for the Roman patrol, passing by. As it was it just delayed the inevitable.
So there he is, hanging up there slowly dying with his brother and some religious zealot who thought he could take on the Roman Empire.
I’m looking at that sign above him.
‘Thief’ that’s all it says. It’s a lie you know.
Like that sign above the other guys says, ‘King of the Jews.’ That’s a lie as well. We haven’t had a king for centuries. It’s just some Roman joke to rub it in that they can do anything that they want to us.
Not that he wasn’t a thief, I know he wasn’t perfect, a thief was what he had to be to survive, but it wasn’t who he was.
He was that rascal that could make me laugh when I got too serious.
He was the life of my children. He wasn’t like other fathers that forced their children to learn scriptures all day. He would play with them and tell them they were princes and princesses, that they could be anything they wanted to be.
He was the heartbeat of the family.
The problem was that heartbeat wasn’t very regular or reliable.
He would disappear for days on end with his brother. Spending nights out on the farms trying to find a stray sheep or goat, smuggling it into his brother’s farm without anyone seeing and then delivering them to the city outskirts to sell them to unaware pilgrims as a genuine temple sacrifice. By the time the idiots had got to the temple and realised they had been conned, he and his brother would be long away.
When you think about it, that takes patience, it takes street smarts. He was a clever man was my man. But up there he is just a lump of meat slowly dying.
Why couldn’t he have been a farmer? Or a carpenter? Or a fisherman?
He could have been anything he put his mind too. But all people know is what it says on that piece of paper above his head...thief.
That is what he had to be, not who he was.
It took him nearly nine hours for him to die.
In a way he was fortunate. Normally they leave them up there for days to die, but because the Sabbath was coming they speared them to speed them along.
There was a weird thing that happened near the end. Him and his brother argued. I shouldn’t be surprised. They always argued. Even hanging on a cross with their every breath a struggle they argued.
And it was over the strangest thing, the guy in the middle of them.
They had never met him before but some rabbis were slagging him off for some reason and his brother started to join in. I don’t know what gave him the right to feel superior. They were all going to end up the same way. But my husband stuck up for him. Always liked the underdog he did.
And the guy in the middle said, ‘Today you will be with me in Paradise.’
I know its rubbish, but it’s a nice thought.
That maybe this wasn’t the end of my man. Maybe he had a happy ending.
Maybe he wasn’t defined by that sign above him saying THIEF.
Hi. If I could love him, why couldn’t God?
Let have a time of personal reflection. Let us pray
As each candle is extinguished may we reflect on a time of darkness, a time of sorrow, a time of pain.
We think of struggles the world is facing.
We think of the problems of our nation our institutions like our health service, or education system, of the pressures on local services.
We think of people who are friends and neighbours that are struggling just now.
We think of struggles within our family.
We think of our personal trials just now.
You know what pain is because you have faced it.
You know what frustration is because you must have felt helpless as your Son died.
It may have been what was needed, but that doesn’t mean it was what you wanted.
We struggle as we hear Christ say, ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’
We struggle because often we feel the same way, ‘Why have you forsaken us?’
Help us to see that you where there.
That the pain of the Son was the pain of the Father; that your hope then could become his hope.
That the story hadn’t ended, that there was more that you could do., would do.
And likewise may we begin to see, even in the pain of the world, even in our pain, that you are not finished with us yet, there is still more that you can and will do.
We think of struggles the world is facing, and we have hope that the story isn’t ended yet.(lit candles)
We think of the problems of our nation our institutions like our health service, or education system, of the pressures on local services, and we have hope that the story isn’t ended yet.
We think of people who are friends and neighbours that are struggling just now, and we have hope that the story isn’t ended yet.
We think of struggles within our family, and we have hope that the story isn’t ended yet.
We think of our personal trials just now, and we have hope that the story isn’t ended yet.
All these prayers we give in the name of Christ, who died for the world, and for us. Amen