Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday 2017

If there is a day for spectacle in church, it is this day.  And the spectacle should be removal.

In a church with liturgical colors, there are no colors for this day.  Paraments should be removed, publicly, in worship, as an act of mourning.  If there is bright sunlight, windows should be covered with black cloths.  If the officiant wears a stole, that should be removed.  There should be no flowers, no decorations, nothing that speaks of presence.  The space should speak of absence.

And silence.  This is a day for words, not images.  Images are dead things; the Psalmist got that right. Images are not holy, and they are not God.  This is a day for Protestantism in the worship space of the purest sort.

This is a day for death.

If there was any humanity in Jesus Christ, if Jesus of Nazareth ever walked the earth, this is the day to honor that humanity, to reverence it, to accept it fully and completely.  For to be human is to be mortal and to be mortal is to die.

This is the day to recognize that; not in common with humanity, but with God.

And that is where the words stop.  That is where even words "are a stain upon silence."

This is a day for the story; and the spectacle; and then silence.

Psalm 22
22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

22:2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.

22:3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

22:4 In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

22:5 To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

22:6 But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people.

22:7 All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;

22:8 "Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver-- let him rescue the one in whom he delights!"

22:9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother's breast.

22:10 On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

22:11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

22:12 Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

22:13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;

22:15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

22:16 For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shriveled;

22:17 I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me;

22:18 they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.

22:19 But you, O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!

22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!

22:21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

22:22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

22:24 For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.

22:25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

22:26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever!

22:27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

22:28 For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.

22:29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.

22:30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord,

22:31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.

--Psalm 22

And when noon came, darkness blanketed the whole land until mid-afternoon.  And at 3 o'clock in the afternoon Jesus shouted at the top of his voice, "Eloi, eloi, lema  sabachthani" (which means "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?").

And when some of those standing nearby heard, they would say, "Listen, he's calling Elijah!"  And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a pole, and offered him a drink, saying, "Let's see if Elijah comes to rescue him!"

But Jesus let out a great shout and breathed his last.

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom!  When the Roman officer standing opposite him saw that he had died like this, he said, "This man really was God's son!"

Now some women were observing this from a distance, among them were Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James the Younger and Joses, and Salome.  (These women) had regularly followed and assisted him when he was in Galilee, along with many others women who had come up to Jerusalem in his company.

And when it had already grown dark, since it was preparation day the next day (the day before the sabbath), Joseph of Arimethea, a respected council member, who himself was anticipating God's imperial rule, appeared on the scene, and dared to go to Pilate to request the body of Jesus.  And Pilate was surprised that he had died so soon.  He summoned the Roman officer and asked him whether he had been dead for long.  And when he had been briefed by the Roman officer, he trained the body to Joseph.  And he bought a shroud and took him down and wrapped him in the shroud, and placed him in a tomb that had been hewn out of rock, and rolled a stone up against the opening of the tomb.  And Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses noted where he had been laid to rest.

Mark 15:33-47, SV

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