“Good Friday”

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blackWhat have we done?

Jesus, Son of God, have mercy upon us.

For He hangs up on the tree, the symbol of shame and humiliation, nailed upon the tool of torture and of control.

He hangs up on the tree for you.
He hangs up on the tree for me.

Fastened to the wood.

And His blood?

It pours.

Every last ounce drained for our transgressions.
Every drop squeezed out for our iniquities.

His blood,it pours.
It pours because of you.
It pours out because of me.
It pours.

“He was despised and rejected by mankind,” writes the prophet Isaiah. “A man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hid their faces.

“He was despised, and we held him in low esteem. But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

“For he was cut off from the land of the living and assigned a grave with the wicked though he had done no violence, though there was no deceit in his mouth.

“He poured out his life unto death…”
poured out every last drop…
poured out every last ounce…
for you.
for me.

What have we done?

Today is Good Friday. I’ve always hated that designation… for what can be good about today?

What can be good about his torture?
What can be good about his shame?
What can be good about his humiliation?
What can be good about the Son of God agonizing away on the cross, his life slipping away?

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering. Yet we considered him punished by God,”
stricken by him,
afflicted by him.

But he was pierced for our transgressions.
he was crushed
for ouriniquities;
the punishement that brought us peace was on him.

And by his stripes we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him…
every white lie,
every lustful thought,
every impure motive,
every arrogant action,
every deceitful scheme
every slanderous word
our sins. The Lord has laid on him… our sins.

The abuse you spew out on others…
our sins,
the gossip you spread around…
our sins,
the back biting and underhanded comments you speak about your boss, your neighbor, your friends, your pastors…
our sins… the Lord has laid on him our sins, the iniquity of us all.

For he has bore the sin of many, and made intercession for you… for me… for us… the transgressors.

As Paul writes in Colossians: [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth
visible and invisible
whether thrones, or powers, or rulers, or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Once.
Once you were alienanted from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior, your transgressions, your sins.

But now… Now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

For you,
For me,
For us.

As Christians, the cross is a sublime moment of unarmed truth and unconditional love manifest in the face of the catastrophic. It is here on this cross, on this tree, on this device meant to humiliate and execute, that God, our merciful God, our gracious God, our loving God, paid for our freedom and showed the perfection of his love for you… for me… for us.

Oh merciful God,
Forgive us.
Oh merciful God
Forgive us for what we have done and left undone.
Oh Son of God
Rescue us.
Rescue us now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

It is finished.

What is the measure of a Man?

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This poem by Anis Mojgani, ‘For Those Who Can Still Ride on Airplanes’ is one of my favorite pieces of poetry. It is both beautiful and disturbing. Having seen Anis perform this twice in person is remarkable, listening to it over and over again on Vimeo still leaves me speechless. Somehow with his turn of phrase he is able to encapsulate all the questions that surround the question, “What is the measure of a man?”

For a New Beginning

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new beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us