Tag Archives: crucifixion

What’s So Good about Good Friday?

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Passion Gospel

I’d like to know who decided to call this day “Good Friday,” for there is nothing good about it. It is a solemn day, a dreadful day, an awful day. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. It is a day to contemplate the torture and execution of Jesus on a Cross, a day to confront death itself. And this year, we have to do all this in isolation, trapped in our own homes. No, it is not a “good” day!

So, why on earth do we put ourselves through this torment? Why are we compelled to think about the Cross? It would be much more congenial to skip right over Good Friday and to go straight to Easter Day. Now that’s what I call a good day!

Well, folks, that just wouldn’t work. You see, the road to Easter, the road to Resurrection, goes straight through the valley of the shadow of death. There is no other route. Before we can experience the new life of Christ, we must surrender the old life of sin. We do this for the first time at our baptism (or our godparents do it for us). We do this again and again every time we confess our sins to God, whether at Holy Eucharist or at Morning Prayer. And we do it today in spades!

There are many lessons to be learned from the Cross. But the first and foremost is that Christ died for us. And I put especial emphasis on the “for us.” Put another way, Christ died because of us. Once upon a time, the Church was in the habit of blaming the Jews, all Jews, for the death of Jesus. That slander was false then, and it is false now. One of the hymns normally sung during Holy Week has this verse:

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?

Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee.

’Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee:

I crucified thee.

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The fact is that we all share in the responsibility for Jesus’ agony on the Cross, for it was our sin that made this terrible sacrifice necessary. And it behooves us to remember that shameful fact on this most solemn day and to grieve.

On this day, for the sake of our souls, we are constrained to imagine the painful and humiliating death of Jesus of Nazareth. For our Lord did not die stoically, as John’s Gospel might lead us to believe. The other Gospels make it quite clear that Jesus suffered both physical and spiritual agony on that cross.

But, thanks be to God, agony and death were not the end of the story. And even on this day, which focuses on the death of our Lord, we need to keep in mind that the road goes on, out of the valley of the shadow of death, to a place of refreshment and eternal life. The Cross, as crucial as it is to our faith, is not the final destination. It is but the signpost to a place beyond death.

Later today, I would suggest that you take some time to look at a crucifix, a cross with Jesus’ body fixed to it. Maybe you have a crucifix on a wall somewhere in your home; maybe you have an icon of the Crucifixion. And even if you don’t, you can always Google the word “crucifixion” and bring up a medieval painting on your computer screen. Just take some time today to gaze upon the life-giving cross and upon the Son of God who was nailed to it. Look upon the one who suffered so that your sins might be forgiven you, and worship him!

© 2020 by Darren Miner. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Glory and Exaltation, Suffering and Death

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Gospel Reading

Next Sunday is commonly called Palm Sunday, but it has another name: the Sunday of the Passion. Now, that word passion in modern English means desire, but it used to mean something quite different, namely, suffering. So in plain, ordinary English, next Sunday is the Sunday of the Suffering. It bears that title because the Gospel reading is the story of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Paradoxically, the first hymn of the Sunday of the Suffering is entitled “All glory, laud, and honor.” It is a song about Christ’s glory. Now, why sing a song about the glory of Christ on the day when you hear the story of his shameful torture and execution? Well, the answer to that question is given to us today in the reading from John’s Gospel.

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Up till the events recounted today, Jesus had repeatedly downplayed the dangers he faced, defying death with equanimity. Again and again, he would say to this disciples, “My hour has not yet come,” meaning “My enemies cannot harm me, for the time appointed for my death has not yet arrived.” But in today’s Gospel story, Jesus says something quite different, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Now, that doesn’t sound too ominous, till you realize that the means of his glorification will be crucifixion on a wooden cross.

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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Gospel Reading

As I’ve said many times before, the liturgical season of Lent is a jarring time. Well, Holy Week is even more so! Today, Holy Week begins, and by a quirk of liturgical history, we get the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem juxtaposed with Matthew’s account of the Passion. For this reason, this Sunday is given two names in the prayer book: Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Passion.

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A variety of pious customs have become associated with this Sunday, all of which focus on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In Russia, pussy willows are carried in procession. In South India, flower petals are strewn on the floor of the sanctuary during the reading of the Gospel of the Palms. (The sexton must just love that!) And in the United States, we solemnly bless palms and carry them in procession as we sing Jesus’ praise. A favorite pastime of both children and adults is to make crosses out of the palm fronds and then keep the crosses on display in the home until Shrove Tuesday. On that day, the palm crosses may be returned to church, burned, and made into the ashes for Ash Wednesday.

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Good Friday Service, Fri. March 25 at 3 p.m.

GoodFriday2016

Good Friday Liturgy, Friday March 25, 3 p.m.
The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 1750 29th Avenue, San Francisco

Unlike all other days of the year, the Eucharist is not celebrated on this day but rather “communion from the reserve sacrament” is offered. This is a reminder of Christ’s death and departure from this world. Our Good Friday liturgy will also include the veneration of the cross.

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Behold the Wood of the Cross!

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings for Good Friday http://www.lectionarypage.net/YearABC_RCL/HolyWk/GoodFri_RCL.html

Jesus lives! Never forget that, not even on Good Friday! This liturgy is not a funeral for Our Lord. This homily is not a eulogy. We do not come together to mourn his loss.

Instead, we are gathered here today to remember Our Lord’s death and, in some small way, to grapple with its meaning for us. As distasteful as it may be, we must contemplate Jesus’ hideous torture and agonizing death on a cross, for it is at the cross that our sins meet God’s love.

On Good Friday, our liturgy is different from any other liturgy in the year. It’s a muted liturgy, a bleak liturgy, a liturgy stripped bare. On this day, the focus of our attention is the cross—a simple, wooden cross.

This cross is a paradox. On the one hand, the cross is a symbol of torture and shameful death. Crucifixion was the fate of rabble-rousers and rebels in the Roman Empire, and hanging on the wood of a tree was the fate of Jews accursed of God. On the other hand, for Christians throughout the world, the cross is the preeminent symbol of our faith and a sign of hope.

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