While the Abbey cannot open its doors, the church is still praying together and supporting each other.
Please find resources below for this Good Friday.
Seven Words for the 21st Century
‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23.34)
A man sits alone at a table. As he writes, he thinks and prays about the words he copies. This is no laborious chore, it is an act of loving devotion. The person nailed to the cross dominates the writer’s life: his prayers, his relationships, his judgements, his hopes and expectations. All that he does – all that he is – is in reference to that person about whom he writes. That compassionate, understanding, forgiving phrase seems so apt for the man about whom he writes – the man who gives meaning to his life. What next to write? – A difficult choice and an awesome responsibility. And so before he makes his decision he falls to his knees in prayer.
‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23.43)
A bullfight, a war film, a boxing match or a public crucifixion: what are the ethics of ‘watching’? Of course, we are never just watching. But what is the extent to which watching is participating? At what point do we become complicit? For surely not all watching is complicit: it is right that we watch the news, however terrible. There is no merit in turning away from the horror and violence that exists in the world. Likewise, there are films and novels that, through their depiction of violence, help us understand more fully its nature and reality. But when does the depiction of violence become a pornography of violence?
If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, if we confess our sins God is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
‘Woman, behold your son! … Behold, your mother!’ (John 19.26f)
I am a pilgrim. I went on a journey throughout the world to see where wisdom and righteousness were to be found. Eventually I arrived at a land of peace and harmony. I looked up and saw a man nailed to a tree, hanging there and dying. Why are you there on the tree? What have you done? He said, ‘I am here for love’s sake. I am here for love of this cruel world you have seen, for the love of its people.’ He bade me look back to the world I had left, to the rich & the poor, the peaceful & the violent, the indifferent & the compassionate. He said, ‘See these people. They are your sons & daughters, your sisters & brothers, your mothers & fathers. Love them, and you shall be free.’
‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? … My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Matt. 27.46)
Hell on earth is a reality. There are occasions in life that are so crushingly evil. There are sights seen that just should not be seen. There are extremes of cruelty that are just not acceptable. There are times of such sadness that they break your heart. There are places we just should not have to be. Is it all redeemable?
Lord Jesus Christ, your light shines within us. Let not my doubts nor my darkness speak to me.
Lord Jesus Christ, your light shines within us. Let my heart always welcome your love. (Taize)
‘I thirst’ (John 19.28)
Our planet houses over 6 billion people. Of these, 1 in 7 of us is malnourished. 1 in 6 of us does not have clean water to drink. 1 in 5 of us lives on less than $1 a day. And God – Love –seems silent; seems powerless. Powerless like Jesus who hung on the cross, thirsting. Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours,….. Consider prayerfully what you can do – with your professional skills and other gifts, with your time, even your emails. How might these respond to the thirst of God; how might they be part of God’s work on this planet? Ask these things of God. And the God who thirsts for your love and mine, this God will guide the way you walk.
‘It is finished’ (John 19.30)
It is finished; but not merely ended. You watch and 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 that greater suffering were not necessary to save us. His love is extravagant, un measured, and so his suffering is a joy, a bliss, an endless delight to him. It accomplishes his victory over evil and our salvation, and it achieves for him his fulfilment.
‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!’ (Luke 23.46)
‘Having said this, he breathed his last.’ At the very end, Jesus speaks words of the deepest trust. It seems then that an interpretation of Christ’s words for our days might involve an exercise in greater maturity. The maturity of taking upon ourselves responsibility for our lives, our societies, our planet. At the end, perhaps we shall be able to stand where Christ stood which equals standing alone and fully present. No excuses, no blame – ‘it is as it is’. Thus may we know ourselves to be greeted by those incredible words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
There’s something wonderful about taking an old pillowcase ready for the bin, wilted spring blooms which will be ready for compost soon, and bashing them for an afternoon to make something more long-lasting and beautiful than we had before. Perhaps a nice process to ponder in these uncertain times of change, of new habits growing and mentalities shifting.
Many of us will be missing the lovely and evocative music we normally hear during Passiontide and Easter. These are a few suggestions for your listening.