Friday, March 29, 2013

Meditation for Tenebrae | Good Friday 2013

This is the day when life is raw,
quivering, terrifying:
The day of numbed emotions,
the day of blunt nails
and splintered wood,
of bruised flesh
and red blood.
The day we loathe,
when hopes are crushed.

The day we long for,
when pretences fall away—

Because the worst that we can do
cannot kill the love of God.

Gracious God,
your love is a light in our darkness,
vulnerable, yet unquenchable.
We would stand with Christ,
in the midst of the horrors of this world
where betrayal and death
constantly threaten your love and peace.





Jesus is dead.

The life –

the promise –

the light that shone so brightly

has been extinguished.


We are now at the end of the day

that began with the journey to Golgotha

and all that remains of the rabbi from Nazareth

is a broken body

and the broken dreams of his scattered and heartbroken followers.

The Kingdom he proclaimed has not come.

The powerful remain powerful:

the oppressed remain oppressed –

and where there had been hope

there is only despair.


That is the stark reality of Good Friday.


Yes we know what happens next …

it’s not like we have collective amnesia about



The Good News this Good Friday

is that as we sit here at the foot of the cross

we do so knowing that we are on the journey –

not at the destination.


The destination is the resurrection –

and our passport is an empty tomb

that frees us to live lives of perfect freedom:

free from the fear of death.


We know – as the poem says

that the worst that we can do

cannot kill the love of God.

That is the good news we live our lives in response to

not just on Good Friday

but every day

as we strive to live in alignment

with God’s love, justice and compassion

as we partner with God in the holy work

of turning the human race into the human family

as we search for ways to make God’s love tangible 24/7

which is the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.


But we also know

As we sit here at the foot of the cross

That without the cross,

the resurrection couldn’t have happened.


Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,

it remains just a single grain;

but if it dies, it bears much fruit.


And because it did –

because of the Good News of this Good Friday –

we are freed to be fully alive by the power of the resurrection –

healed, whole and liberated in this life and the next.


But to get there we have to be here.

And to really “get there”

we have to “really” be here.


And therein

as they say

lies the rub


Because truth be told --
and I don’t know about you --

but sometimes I want to skip this part.

The being here part.

The shadows part.

The reality of pain and loss and death part.

I’d really rather focus on the happy ending,

the party, the “fiesta.”

Skip to the Easter lilies and the Alleluias

and the kids in their bonnets and bowties

with Peeps in their pockets

and chocolate on their faces.

And yet

I’ve come to know

in the way you know in your heart

and not just in your head

that in order to really get there

you have to really be here.

If we fast-forward to Easter,

we avoid confronting in ourselves

our own self-righteousness,

our own certainties,

our own fears and our own grief.

We miss finding God in them.

And we miss being transformed by them.

This service tonight

offers the gift of space and time

to recognize the presence of God 

in the shadows, in the darkness,

in the grief that is the inevitable price we pay

for daring to love.

There is nothing required of you

in this service.

There is no need to leave your seat,

to move forward, to receive anything.

This is a time simply to be.

To let the psalms tonight speak for you

as they express the wildest anger, the deepest despair,

the most fervent longing.

To see the candles, as they are extinguished,

a visual symbols of loss.

To allow yourself to claim this as a safe place,

a cocoon, in which you may rest and be held.

Held by the God

who is just as present

here at the foot of the cross on Good Friday

as in the joy of Easter Day.

The God who is in the light and the darkness.

The God who is, in the words of singer Rosanne Cash –

in the roses and in the thorns.

God is in the roses

The petals and the thorns

Storms out on the oceans

The souls who will be born

And every drop of rain that falls

Falls for those who mourn

God is in the roses and the thorns.


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