Easter Memoirs: Good Friday

Good Friday did not always enjoy the reflection it deserved in my early awareness. In my youth, there was the distraction of Easter camps and sundry other diversions. Lenten preparatory practices were not part of our tradition.

In ministry, of course, the responsibility for Easter services had me looking across the broader Christian tradition for ways of educating and celebrating the drama of a climax in the Christian story.

I served a number of congregations, and each had a traditional variation of how Good Friday was understood, particularly the central issue of “atonement”, or how the sacrifice of Christ achieved the possibility of humanity being “at one” with God. (A particularly striking representation of the cross is a prominent feature at the Modbury Church of Christ, South Australia – fashioned by Carole-Anne Fooks from a red gum that stood on the building site.)

Did Jesus go to the cross as a substitute for humankind because God could not bear to look past our sins and required a perfect sacrifice in God’s own Son? Was Jesus’ death a ransom paid to Satan to release us from captivity to our soul-destroying ways? Or was it that Jesus succumbed to the predicted outcome of the clash between his Way and the hubris, self-centredness and wickedness of the power hunger in which we are all implicated?

These questions do not sit comfortably and are unsatisfied by argument and proof-texting. Careful listening, reflection, self-examination and gratitude lead the way to an effective Good Friday experience.

So, in retirement, we will attend a Good Friday service somewhere. Ecumenically, there are so many choices. Each will offer that opportunity to listen, reflect, self-examine and express gratitude.

This is still the first day of the Triduum, which goes from sunset to sunset, and that began with Jesus’ shared meal in the Upper Room with his disciples. There is yet more to come to complete the Three Days of Easter.

Published by wonderingpilgrim

Not really retired but reshaped and reshaping. Now a pilgrim at large ready to engage with what each day brings.

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