Good Friday Sermon
REV. JENNIFER ADAMS – April 22, 2011 – Sermon Good Friday
After I read this gospel on Good Friday, I feel almost like silence is the only possible response. Not because there aren’t deep theological questions to ask today, not because there aren’t deep emotions involved or reactions to be had.
But silence because of the mystery, because of the power and complexity woven throughout everything we just heard. Silence because it has the power to hold more than words can. And silence because, in this story, the silence actually held a great deal. Just listen … When asked “What is truth,” Jesus didn’t reply with words. He allowed silence to fill the space and for Pilate that space had to seem like an eternity, maybe it was. Jesus simply stood there looking back at Pilate while lingering in the air was the question on which the whole world seemed to turn. But Jesus simply stood there quiet, himself, his presence, an answer. In the silence in this story, there was the presence of truth.
And then they struck him, clothed him in a purple robe, crowned his head with a crown of thorns and while he spoke to Pilate about a kingdom not of this world, he carried the cross in silence. And that silence might have lasted for hours or miles or maybe it was only a few minutes and a few hundred yards but no matter. In the silence, in this story, there was an unusual, merciful, strength.
And then at the foot of the cross, Jesus mother and Jesus’ friend were given to each other by Jesus; he made them into family. “Woman here is your Son,” he said to his mother and to the beloved disciple he said, “Here is your Mother.” And there were no words from them in response. Maybe an embrace. Maybe tears. Maybe shared grief or gratitude or relief-filled surprise or simply the gentle holding of each other’s hands. In the silence, in this story, there was a profound and re- defining love.
And then was the silence of care. Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus who always seemed to appear in the night in this gospel came to care for Jesus’ body after his death and they had carried with them one hundred pounds of a mix of myrrh and aloes. They wrapped his body in spice- soaked linens, with what you can imagine was a tender, prayerful sort of care. In the silence after Jesus’ death there was gentle, brave, compassionate care offered by Joseph a secret disciple and Nicodemus a synagogue leader who had been told earlier in the gospel about the need to be born again. And maybe, that night, he was.
In so in the silence in this story there was darkness, crucifixion, death, and questions too big for our minds to grasp, but there were also the beginnings of something so very, very new and something of eternal beauty happening there. Creation was re-beginning out of the silent places that day – places where truth, forgiveness, strength, compassionate care, and love were coming to be among us.
There’s hymn about Eucharist that begins with a line about silence and I think it fits us well today. It fits the story we heard today. It’s a hymn about Christ’s presence among us in life, in death, in rebirth. And I’ll close with its words, “Now the silence,” it begins . . .
Now the silence. Now the peace. Now the empty hands uplifted.
Now the kneeling. Now the plea, Now the Father’s arms in welcome.
Now the hearing. Now the power. Now the vessel brimmed for pouring. Now the Body.
Now the blood…
Now the heart forgiven, leaping. Now the Spirit’s visitation. Now the Son’s epiphany. Now the Father’s Blessing.
Now. Now. Now.