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Saturday 11 April 2009

What Good Friday Means To Me

(photograph courtesy of www.andrehilliard.com

"Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again.
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green."

This lovely old hymn is so very beautiful, isn't it?

For the first four decades of my life, from as far back as I can remember, Good Friday moved me intensely. Growing through adolescence and early adulthood, it always seemed that the more deeply I felt the grief of that day, the more 'holy' I was, somehow. Weeping through "The Passion of the Christ" or the earlier (lovelier!) "Jesus of Nazareth" seemed the right thing to do. And it moved me intensely and on some level it felt 'good' to be so moved. Now I wonder...

Now, when we see everyone jumping on the bandwagon of other people's grief - a child is killed, a person is run over in the road, and flowers or teddy bears appear tied to railings, left there by well-meaning strangers; a 'celebrity' dies and there is a huge outpouring of tears as though somehow the world is less for their passing; and it seems sometimes that the words that Jesus spoke on the road to Golgotha, "Weep not for me but for yourselves and your children," were not, as I once thought, some kind of prophecy, but rather a statement of what was happening right there. Were they weeping for him, or for their own projected grief? For all the inner concealed crucifixions of the Christ within us all...If we are children of God, or children of Life, why do we crucify our dignity by having faith in sin, in evil, in sickness, in the belief that somehow we are at the mercy of fate? If we are Children of Life, then surely we the Kingdom of Heaven within us can shine forth and, without the need of projecting our grief, we face up to our own demons and walk on into our own Easter.

A constantly recurring question was always, "He died for my sins, so I am sorry and am born in debt to him, but what sin did I commit that deserved such a terrible end?" or, "Who demanded something so horrible? Could (the God of) Life demand death in recompense for some failure in His children? Or worse, could Life/Love demand the death of an innocent for the guilty?" No, it doesn't make sense at all. Nor does it fit with anything that this beautiful man actually said. His life and message was surely more important than his death, and yet we have filled churches and holy places with crucifixes - we have honoured the cross, when surely the whole meaning of his life is, "To have life more abundantly." If we believe we are created in the 'image and likeness' of God, and yet create a God who demands the death of an innocent, it is small wonder that religions have, over centuries, caused wars, murdered and massacred those who don't agree with our view of the world. If we believe in a God who is Life, who causes to sun to rise on the unjust as well as the just, who has no favourites and simply expresses Him (Her) Self in all that is - all people, all creatures, all creation - then there is no need for ideologies, theologies, 'isms' or any control or power-seeking.

No, none of the self-satisfied grieving, the sense of 'I've done my duty by honouring this death and feeling mauled by it...' No. The point of it all is surely to recognize where we crucify our own expression of Life. To grieve for a man who died horrifically 2000 years ago, is without purpose and self-indulgent. We're not here to mourn the past but to live as true expression of that Life, as, I believe, Jesus of Nazareth did.

It is spring. Love is really the foundation, source and life in everything and that is what Good Friday means to me.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain.
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Then thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

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