We have just listened to an account in the Gospel of Mark of Jesus’ last days and hours. We have sung, “Were You There”, a verse between each reading. As we listened and as we sang, we have submitted ourselves to serious self-examination: what’s my part in all this?
Lots of people don’t like this process – won’t submit themselves to it, and aren’t here. Good Friday services are notoriously not well-attended. And yet, we continue to offer them, and some of us would not find Easter complete if we didn’t do it.
I don’t like it. What’s to like? Every time we do this we re-traumatize ourselves psychologically. And yet – we do it.
Jesus, in another context admittedly, said, “Do this to remember me.” On some level we know that it’s important to remember him and what happened to him.
Collectively, I believe, some of us are committed to being the vessels of remembrance. This man, this Jesus, is probably the best known person in human history. This narrative has survived more or less intact for more than 2000 years.
Collectively, what we did to him, and then later to all the disciples except John (who died in captivity in AD 100), has engraved on our minds the sadistic cruelty of which human kind is capable.
Because we choose to remember, we assume responsibility for what happens now. What do we have to say about the Americans willingness to legalize and practice torture, or pay others to do it for them? How do we react when we hear that yet another gay or transgendered person in some part of this world has been humiliated and beaten to death? Amnesty International has called the tazer an instrument of torture. How do we feel when we see that instrument of torture on every policeman’s (or woman’s) hip? Do we get it that that weapon will primarily be used on the weak, the impoverished, the mentally ill, or the person of colour?
People of God, our work is not yet done. There exists vast injustice in our world today. Animals do not escape. Children in strict religious families do not escape. Women in many countries have no rights and no respect. The precious earth that sustains and supports our very lives has few rights and very little consideration.
Jesus asks us to stay awake with him, and to pray with him, and to be his body in the world today. Are we up to the job? Can we hear his call, and are we willing to put ourselves on the line? We are not alone in this. He will support and guide us, and his great love surrounds each and every one of us. He has taught us well and he is counting on us. The future of humanity here on earth may well be in the balance. Are we listening? Or are we hiding in a locked room with a huge boulder outside the door?
Can we take a few moments of silent reflection or prayer before we sing our closing hymn: “Stay with us through the night”. Then I would ask that we all leave quietly without conversation. Thanks for being here – it is courageous of you.