Good Friday Reflection 2020

The Good Friday Reflection for 2020  

'It is finished’

 

 

IN THE DARK YOU SEE A LIGHT. A CROSS, blazing with light, quarters the night sky. The cross is richly decorated with gold, and you notice in particular five fine jewels. It is beautiful, but terrifying, for it makes you conscious of your mortal ugliness, your sin. You look away, but your eyes are drawn back; and now it is not jewels and gold you see, but blood. You see no body, but the cross is streaming in blood. You are horrified; but now you cannot look away, and as you gaze, so the gold and the jewels and the beauty return and the blood disappears – and then again you see blood instead of the gold. This oscillation of blood and gold, beauty and horror, is continuous. As it goes on, you begin to hear the cross speak.

It tells you a story of violence and suffering; how it was cut down at the forest’s edge and made to serve as a gallows; it tells you how it was pierced with nails; it tells you how it was made to kill the one whom it acknowledged as its Lord. It tells you how it wanted to fall down upon its Lord’s enemies and destroy them, and how it dared not because it’s Lord wished otherwise. It tells you how, after the execution, it was cut down and buried in a pit. It is a grim tale.

It is not finished, however. The cross tells you how it was found by its Lord's disciples, taken from its place of burial and given its rich decoration. It tells you how it is now venerated as a tree of victory, how now, no longer abject and broken, it towers above creation, honoured as the means of salvation, a thing of glory.

The picture changes. You see Christ getting ready for battle; young, brave, vigorous. He strips himself, a warrior who needs no weapons; he is eager to ascend the cross, the place of conflict. He wants this thing to happen, for he wants to redeem humankind. That is what he came to do, and this is the consummation. Now he is on the cross. You know he must suffer, but you don’t see it at first, you see only serenity, joy even. This battle is going to be won.

But then you look again and you see the blood, you see the wide wounds around the nails, you see the flesh scraped and pierced by the crown of thorns; you see Christ’s body shrivel and wizen; you see the pallor of death on his face; you wait for the moment of his passing; you wait and wait, your sorrow at his sorrow growing; you want an end to what he is having to endure. You want him to die and the horror to be over. But just when you think he is going to die, instead you see him, there on the cross, smile. For this is what he wants; it is not to him a grim necessity – he would suffer more if he could, even though the greater suffering were not necessary to save us. His love is extravagant, unmeasured, and so his suffering is a joy, a bliss, and endless delight to him. It accomplishes his victory over evil and our salvation, and it achieves for him his fulfilment.*

   *After The Dream of the Rood and Julian of Norwich.

   Acknowledgment.  Taken from the book – ‘Seven Words for the 21st Century’ with kind permission granted by publisher - Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd.