Good Friday, Christ Church.
Despite our continued physical separation, we still gather together at the foot of the cross. Last week, I recommended Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a companion during Holy Week. One of his great works is “The Cost of Discipleship,” or simply, “Discipleship.” Here, he draws a very sharp distinction between what he calls “cheap grace” as opposed to “costly grace.” If ever there is a day during all the days of the year to deeply and prayerfully consider this distinction, this is the day. For, as always, Jesus has shown us the way. Wherever we may be presently sequestered, the love of Christ for all of us is fully revealed upon the hard wood of the cross. And it has cost him his life.
What wondrous love is this? It is the love of one willing to lay aside his crown for our very souls. The question for us today is, “How will we respond?” God’s peace.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Good Friday, April 10, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
John 13:36-38 [AM]
John 19:38-42 [PM]
I came across a quote this past week that has stayed with me. I wonder how you feel about it: “There are some things worth living for, even if we find ourselves having to die for them as well.”
Let’s be honest. Suffering and death are not our favorite topics. We do whatever we can to put as much distance between those two realities and us as we possibly can. And while we admire those who make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of a worthy cause (those serving in the medical community right now come immediately to mind, and there are many others), most of us prefer not to emulate them.
That is why the keeping of Holy Week is so very important. The events we recall now are God’s summary statement about life truly lived. Jesus chooses to ride into Jerusalem knowing full well the risk he is taking. He spends his last days trying to prepare his disciples for what is to come. He reminds them that, if one really wants to lead in this world, then one must be a servant of all. He breaks bread and blesses wine with them one last time, a banquet that then becomes a sign of his enduring love that will last for all time. Instead of avoiding or resisting arrest, he embraces the injustice of his trial and the horror of his execution. Instead of cursing and castigating those who abandon him, even those closest to him and who are about to betray him “three times” (John 13:36-38), he prays from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Why? Because he has come to demonstrate in human terms what the unconditional love of God really is. In other words, it is in the giving of ourselves, even of our very lives, for the sake of the Gospel and God’s kingdom that true living is to be found.
But this is not the end. As one pastor once famously preached, “It may be Good Friday, but Easter is coming!” Death cannot hold the Son of God. What is resurrection? How will we experience it? I don’t really know. But as we celebrate Easter, we can know that any and all sacrifices we make during the course of our earthly lives will not be in vain. In the meantime, instead of being entombed in constant fear of sacrifice and death, we are set free to live our lives fully, faithfully, and well as we press on with Christ in the hope of his resurrection.
It is reported that, as his guards were preparing to lead Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the scaffold and to his death, he turned to his fellow prisoners and said, “This is the end. For me, it is the beginning of life.” For those of us who seek to follow Jesus, no truer words about these holy days have ever been spoken.
Janie and I look forward to gathering with you online to celebrate the empty tomb and the joy of The Resurrection! In the meantime, we keep you in our prayers. Please continue to take good care.