Friday, March 25, 2016

The Good Friday post

Lent is over. For Christians, the saddest and most challenging time before Easter is Good Friday. In the western church, Good Friday this year is on March 25th. In the Eastern Orthodox church, the day is called "Great Friday," and it will occur on April 29th.

Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus Christ was betrayed, arrested, and executed on a crucifix. Death by crucifixion is one of the most horrific means of execution known to mankind. As well as being considered "execution," crucifixion is also considered to be "torture," probably because it is slow and painful. Death was caused mainly by asphyxiation or heart failure. It was such a horrible way to be killed that Roman citizens were exempt from this method of execution.

According to this article (link to article titled "The Crucifixion of Christ"), the word "excruciate" or, put in another form, "excruciating," comes from the Latin word "excruciates," which means "out of the cross."

This morning, I went to Saint Martin in the Fields church for a Good Friday service. The church's altar had been stripped, and the festive wall hangings had been removed. Everything was draped in black. Father Earle talked about our mistaken belief that we can plan our lives and that our plans will happen.
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Father Earle described the plans for his life that he made when he was 20 and a student at the Eastman School of Music. He intended to be a professional organist. He had two choices of places to work: church or university. "There was no way that I was going to work in church full time," Father Earle said. "I chose the university. I worked in the university for six years, but God had other plans for me."

Early in the afternoon, people from several Grand Island churches got together for an ecumenical Good Friday service at St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church. This annual event is organized by the Grand Island Ministerium. Members of the clergy who participated were the Rev. Carla Kline of Island Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Canon Earle King of St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church, the Rev. Paul Nogaro, the Rev. Thomas Roman, the Rev. Lynn Shumway, and the Rev. Samuel Venne of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, and the Rev. Sung Ho Lee of Trinity United Methodist Church. 

Three of the pastors offered reflections. The Rev. Carla Kline talked about Jesus' humanity. He was tempted and had to deal with "weakness of the flesh." "He could sympathize with us."

Before Jesus is crucified, Satan comes to him. He attempts to tempt Jesus by offering him the kingdoms of the world. "I love this scene," Carla said. "Jesus is not impervious. He is human."

Jesus, who had prayed for God to take "the cup away from him," resists Satan. Jesus obeys God's will, which is the only thing that matters to him.

Carla said that Jesus did not suffer alone, that an angel came to strengthen Jesus. "We can entrust our lives into God's hands, just as Christ did."
The Rev. Samuel Venne talked about Peter's fears. Peter told Jesus, "I will never deny you," but he did so, three times before the rooster crowed, as Jesus had predicted. "Brave Peter went bitterly as he looked into Jesus' eyes." Peter wept tears of sorrow for three reasons. He knew that he had let Jesus down. He realized that he was not a good shepherd. And, despite his feelings of guilt, Jesus forgave him.

Peter was not alone. In every generation, we turn ourselves away from truth. We have trouble doing God's will. "We want to do it our way."

Father Samuel said that our world continues to experience devastation.
  • Terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015
  • the bombing of the Doctors without Borders hospital in October 2015
  • Terrorist attack in Brussels just recently
So much violence, so much cruelty. Why do we treat one another in such a terrible way? Do we deserve mercy and kindness?

 
Father Earle addressed the issue of mercy for us, even when we don't deserve it.

When all seems lost, there is always forgiveness. When Peter denied Jesus three times out of fear, Jesus forgave him. It was an act of mercy. Father Earle talked about another act of mercy during Jesus' last hours on Earth. When Jesus was crucified, he was placed next to two criminals. One of the criminals told Jesus to get off the cross and save both criminals as well. The other criminal said, "We deserve our fate. That man does not." He added, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus did not hesitate to show mercy, despite the fact that he and the criminals were suffering from terrible agony. "Today, you will be with me in paradise," Jesus said, in response to the man's expression of faith.

Jesus forgave the people who condemned him to a violent death. "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing."

"Even on the cross, Jesus Christ is working out a plan of salvation."

"This is good news this Friday. There is hope for you and for me," said Father Earle.

2 comments:

Alana said...

With all the hatred in the world, and what people have done to each other over the last thousands of years, we can only hope for mercy when we finally cross over to the other side.

peppylady (Dora) said...

Stop by Alana...(Ramblin with AM) I believe Easter means a little bit to different to each of us.
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