It is afternoon – one thirty- and the day is Good Friday. If we go by tradition, Jesus would have been upon his cross for an hour and a half. He will live for just another hour and a half. We will not go on our walk today; we will just sit quietly in my study for the remaining time of Jesus’ life this day so many years ago. That was the way I was brought up – to be quiet on Good Friday from twelve to three o’clock. My mother would not allow us to go out and play during that time; we could read or sit quietly, but there would be none of the usual noisy activity of seven children. That still seems correct to me – to have a quiet time when our Master was suffering on the cross and to think of His love for you and me.
Last evening, Maundy Thursday, I attended two services. One of the services was at Candleberry Chapel in Attleboro. That was a zoom service so I could see the other attendees at the Chapel. It was a really meaningful service, and we all took communion in our own homes. The members of the Chapel and their Pastor Warren read appropriate readings and then extinguished the candles before them to signify the desertion of Jesus’ disciples.
The other service I attended was with Pastor Gordon of First Church of Hopkinton, New Hampshire. That service was recorded online so that was why I was able to attend the two services. Pastor Gordon sat at table and led us through the sacrament of communion, and then the members of the church read scripture and extinguished the candles before them. Both services included an offering of music: at Candleberry by recording except for one selection by their choir, and at First Church by their organist and some of the members of their choir. Both services gave me the feeling that I had worshipped on that important evening in Christianity. Even though I could not attend a service in a church because of our present safe distancing from each other, I felt that I had worshipped God and “been to church.” It was an amazing experience to feel God’s presence along with other worshippers even though we were physically separate.
There is no question but that in recent years, the Christian church has been declining in membership. In recent times, stores have been open for business on Sundays, and sports have moved from Sunday afternoon to Sunday morning during church time. At first, it was thought that our social separation, as it is called, would be the demise of the church perhaps the opposite is happening. People are beginning to miss being with other people. One Episcopal pastor made the statement that he usually had about twelve people present at Sunday morning worship, but a few Sundays ago, he discovered four hundred had gone on the internet to take part in a worship experience. Maybe our time of crisis will lead to an insurgence of religion! Let us pray that will be the end result of our time in a modern plague. May good come out of what has been evil.
That often happens if we look back upon some of the traumatic, difficult times in our lives. When we live through sickness, a time of great emotional stress, or a time of tragedy and we look back, we find that we have been changed, and depending upon our belief in a good loving God, we have been changed into a person of greater love and understanding.
As difficult as the present time is of separation from our loved ones, there has also grown a greater affection for each other. One granddaughter was worried about her nana and grandpa and did some shopping for us, and her dad takes our rubbish to the recycle area in our community. I am reading with our granddaughter Maddie who is in the fifth grade so that she might keep up with her schoolwork. Maddie has grown closer to her grandfather and grandmother through facetime. and we treasure that new closeness.
On this day centuries ago, the man called the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, died a horrible death upon a cross. He had taught of love and caring for each other. He had healed the sick and the infirm. Jesus had taught that humankind should be peaceful and kind. Jesus showed us what God is like and how God expects His children to act. At the end of this day, Good Friday, Peter and the other disciples were filled with remorse. So too we would be if the story of Jesus’ life ended there, but it does not.
Tomorrow, Holy Saturday, the disciples will be filled with a hopelessness and a sadness. Certainly, the betrayal of their Master, His trial and crucifixion proved that evil had conquered good. Ah, but that was not to be true. Evil did not win. The tragic death of Jesus led to the resurrection and a faith that would overcome the grave. On Sunday, we celebrate Easter after a week of tragedy because our Lord was risen from the dead. Such is the power of our loving God.
Hold fast to that faith, that faith of hope and promise. When this plague is over, we may find we as a nation, we as a world will be reborn to a greater kindness and love for each other.
Bosh, you say, that can never be – a world of unity and love. My friend, you forget the power of God in a people’s heart and lives.
Jesus was crucified and was dead they said. Bosh! Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Hold fast to God, and always be a people of hope and faith.
Yes! I said “Bosh”. It is defined as, “silly talk, baloney, humbug, tommy rot, hokum, nonsense, bunk.” When was a young boy “ions” ago, I heard my uncles say this word many times. I have not heard it for a long time. I think it is a good word for today. Bosh! If you think God does not have the power to turn evil into good, death into resurrection, you are mistaken. Go forth with that power of God and with God, we can build the kingdom of love He ordained and created us to accomplish.
I hope you will walk with me again next week. Happy Easter – let us love God and our neighbors and let us have an abundance of faith.
“ And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”