Good Friday: Look Upon the Cross

Good Friday 2020: John 18:1-19:42. St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Lake Jackson.

Good Friday is the somber invitation to look upon the cross … through scripture and song, 

To see God’s steadfast love achingly on display.

That in the cross, God is neither ignorant nor indifferent to our suffering. On the cross, God in Christ goes to the darkest place of human existence and enters into death.

To look upon the cross shows us … that God is with us. God knows our suffering — intimately! — and does not forsake us.

This Good Friday is the first time since public worship was suspended due to COVID-19, that we — St. Timothy’s — are able to look upon our cross in our sacred space by way of this video.

Generations of this parish family have looked to this cross. Standing in songs of praise, kneeling in confession … this cross has been a focal point for our worship. 

And we have looked upon this cross in times of trouble and crisis.

As a child who grew up as member of the St. Timothy’s family in the 1970s and early 80s, I know that I am not the only one to have lifted my eyes here — to this cross — with tears, fears, questions, sorrow, regret, and pain.

The memories that come to me are: when my sister Wendy was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The death of my Grandfather. A close friend’s betrayal. My regret of a broken promise. Remorse for actions and words that hurt others. I’m sure you have your memories, too. Some from long ago, some recent.

This cross has been the focal point for our common prayers through hurricanes, leadership transitions, and economic downturns; through all the challenges that each decade has brought. 

When we further widen our vision to include the broader scope of our faith tradition, we can not only see how God has sustained us as St. Timothy’s through the years, but also as Christians through the millennia. 

Our ancestors in the faith also looked upon the cross for reassurance of God’s grace. Their words and witness encourage us in our present struggles, and on this particular Good Friday.

St. Julian of Norwich was a 14th century English mystic. The disruptions in her lifetime included social and political upheaval. As well as the plague. 

In the midst of the turbulent times in which she lived, she received a profound understanding of God’s love as she looked upon Christ’s blessed passion. 

She shares her inspired insight that “the power of God’s grace abounds much more than the power of sin.”[1] And she encourages us with the words: All shall be well; and all manner of thing shall be well.

This is life, hardship, and death held in Christian perspective. The cross of Christ shows us, not the way around hardship and death, but the way through it.

All shall be well.

So in the sad and unexpected departure of the rector and the arrival of a global pandemic, St. Julian’s words come to us down through the ages to provide us with comfort and hope. 

To remind us that, as the church, we’ve been through a lot. We have seen many things: persecutions, plagues, and war. And we know that God’s faithfulness and stead-fast love carried us then, will carry us now and into the future.

For the cross of Christ is the divine proclamation that God knows our suffering and says: I love you. I am with you. I will not forsake you.

Look upon the cross and see: that in a time of uncertainty, we can be certain of God’s stead-fast love. 

Though it may not presently appear so,

All shall be well.

+++


View worship video here.

[1] Nuth, Joan M. God’s Lovers in An Age of Anxiety: The Medieval English Mystics, p. 103. Orbis, Maryknoll, New York, 2001.

One thought on “Good Friday: Look Upon the Cross

  1. Thank for this sermon, it was lovely. I don’t know why it touched me so, but it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Bless you, Genevieve. See you in church.

    Like

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