|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Exploring ways into the tearing of hearts and suffering of our lives and world...
On this day we gather to remember the suffering of Christ, and those who. like Christ, have suffered: often needlessly, seemingly pointlessly. We will reflect upon seven circles of suffering: in our own person, in our family, in our close relationships, in our wider community, in our nation, in our world and in our earth. We light the Christ candle and seven candles
to bring to mind those seven areas where pain is often experienced. As we reflect more deeply on each one its candle will be extinguished but the Christ candle will continue.
Today on Good Friday we affirm the infinite Love of God displayed in the crucifixion of Jesus - not as a metaphysical transaction to change God from punishing us (as if), but as a witness to the love of God for us at all times, even when we have gone astray or are caught in webs of evil. Sadly too many Christians speak of a punishing God, with disastrous spiritual and practical consequences. That is partly understandable from some past inherited thinking in Christian traditions. It is however a partial way of looking at the cross which is not only destructive but wholly unnecessary theologically.
The Franciscan tradition - not least through the great theologian John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) - is in contrast one which has always encouraged us to focus on the infinite Love of God, displayed in the cross as in all other aspects of creation and salvation. As Richard Rohr among others has recently reminded us, if God “needed” a blood sacrifice to love God’s own creation, then God was not freely loving us. For the Franciscans, 'Jesus was not changing God’s mind about us; he was changing our minds about God. If God and Jesus are not violent or vindictive, then our excuse for the same is forever taken away from us. If God is punitive and torturing however, then we have permission to do the same. Thus grew much of the church’s violent history.'
W.H.Vanstone put this beautifully in his great poem and reflection on 'Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense:
Drained is love in making full,
bound in setting others free,
poor in making many rich,
weak in giving power to be.
Therefore he who shows us God
helpless hangs upon the tree;
and the nails and crown of thorns
tell of what God’s love must be.
Here is God: no monarch he,
throned in easy state to reign;
here is God, whose arms of love
aching, spent, the world sustain.
May we know God's Love more deeply this day, and may it transform our lives for the good.
by Jo Inkpin, for Good Friday 10 April 2020
see further: Richard Rohr's reflection - A Nonviolent Atonement
Are homilies necessary in Holy Week? I wonder. Even more than at other times, our liturgical patterns are shaped so much by the Passion narrative as a whole that interrupting it with other words can seem somewhat intrusive. For the main thing is to enter into the narrative and drama of the Holy Week and Easter mysteries. We do not have to understand everything, or even say or do anything. We are simply invited into the narrative to become part of it and to allow the drama to form the core of our lives. For our task in the whole of our Christian lives is to become more like Christ, in Christ’s life, death and resurrection: to be Christ-formed, cross-formed, resurrection-formed. So it is not a doctrine of the cross we seek to know today. It is its claim and shape in our own lives. Maybe however, just a few words can help us on that journey?...
As we gather today at the foot of the cross I would like to invite you to consider the holding and the beholding that happens in the story we have just heard...
Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death.
These are Archbishop Tutu's words, and they sum up the good news that Christians bring to the world in remembering Good Friday and celebrating Easter. They celebrate Christ's victory over death, and thus the possibility of resurrection for us and all creation. There is no darkness so deep, no grief so unbearable, no injustice so challenging that Christ cannot transform it.
Sometimes we forget that God is for us and not against us. When we are in trouble, and sometimes even when things are going well, we can turn our attention away from God. Easter is a time to turn back and re-connect.
On Easter Day the great Easter candle is lit and carried into churches with great ceremony. It stands as a reminder of the truth that God's love is stronger than death and anything we fear. So whatever pain or sorrow is happening in your life, remember Christ bears that hurt with you, and His love overcomes our fear, ultimately wiping our tears from our eyes.
for Good Friday 2014, by Jonathan Inkpin
Throughout the Christian centuries, artists have created many moving images of the Crucifixion. One of the most powerful recent examples is found in the work of the Scottish artist David Mach. I first came across this two years ago in the wonderful Galway Arts Festival in Ireland. It was part of an exhibition entitled Precious Light, which was created as part of the celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. This exhibition included a whole series of large and hugely dramatic collages based on many of the great stories of the Bible, each transposed to one of the great cities of our world. The centrepiece however was ‘Golgotha’: a massively arresting larger-than-life sculpture of the Crucifixion, made from steel girders and re-shaped coat hangers. By its sheer size, its searing suffering and sharp sensation, it challenges us and calls forth response: what do we make of Crucifixion? It is the challenge and call of Good Friday...