I think more than any other day in the Christian liturgical calendar, Good Friday has a particular feel to it.  I think part of this feel comes about because Good Friday used to be marked by the “seven last words” of Jesus Christ.   There was this focus on the finality, the ending of Jesus’s life, and therefore we tend to think of the finality of our own lives, and that leaves us with a slightly morose, and often very reflective, contemplative element to Good Friday.
I’ve also noticed that there is occasionally this focus that people act like they did something to participate in causing Jesus to die, and therefore people feel very guilty or full of remorse.  Now, this may be the result of priests or pastors trying so hard to move the focus away from the Jews being responsible for the crucifixion, in order to not perpetuate the anti-Semitic tropes that are present in the Gospels, and instead move to everyone being part of the problem, humanity, and instead having the “blame” fall squarely on everyone’s shoulders.  This moving blame seems then to result in the feeling of personal culpability.
However, regardless of how we feel about Good Friday, we do actually know the story and how things turn out.  We know that Easter is just around the corner.  And on every Sunday during the Eucharistic Prayer, we celebrate the Paschal mystery.  Every Sunday we can think of as a little Easter.  We really can’t pretend-act that it turns out some other way.
On one level Good Friday is really quite complicated, there are so many layers even if we were to just take a small peek at the readings we heard today, and on another level, it is really easy.  Several thousand books have been written on atonement, that concept of being at-one with God, being reconciled, salvation provided through Christ, and I would do any of them an injustice to try to make the complicated portions simplistic.  They just don’t simplify and I think part of the complicated pieces are in fact part of the mystery.
And so after hearing the Suffering Servant passage from the fourth of the “servant songs” in Isaiah, the reading/ singing of psalm 22 beginning with the cry of dereliction—“Eli Eli lama sabachthani”—“My God, my God why have you deserted me?” which in other Gospel versions of the Passion we also hear from the cross, the Hebrews passage which describes Jesus as our great high priest,  the Passion according to the Gospel of John,  I want to invite you instead to a different mindset this Good Friday. I have said before that if you can’t have hope on Good Friday, then you can’t hope.  If anything, Good Friday is a day for hope, because we know despite what pit it may feel like we are in, we know that that God has this. But, this Good Friday, let’s take it a step further.  If you feel or embrace anything on this Good Friday, let’s embrace gratitude.
At Good Friday, as we liturgically mark time, Jesus has died.   But Jesus’ death is significant not because we need to feel morose or because we need to be more contemplative. But because he is everyone whom we have wronged and still he forgives us. Jesus wipes our slates clean so that we can approach God and be part of the larger life of God.  We are forgiven and this allows us to forgive others.  We are forgiven, let our gratitude for forgiveness be wide and deep.  We are forgiven, and it is only when we are forgiven that we can forgive others.  Then and only then are our lives not small and petty, then and only then can we live in the larger life of God, the larger life of love.
Jesus’s love is for all, but particularly for the loveless, his death for all, but particularly for those who betray him still, his sacrifice of his life is for all who would turn to him.
Let us die to self, to all that keeps us from finding unity with our sister or brother, to all that alienates us from living in the light of truth.
Let us die for others, let us live a life of simplicity, so that others receive a fair share.
Let us not turn away from our personal corners of darkness but see them as avenues through which the Spirit of hope draws us into the God of love.
Let us as the people of God, the Body of Christ, bring release to those held in captivity, compassion to the abused and neglected.
Let us unite with the departed through the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, in the eternal banquet.
Let us do all these with a grateful heart that forgiveness comes first.
Then in gratitude, we can turn in prayer not as something rote or something we read to fill up space, but because our lives reflect God’s and we have God’s ear, we have God’s heart because we are drawn into God’s life.  This is why we pray the solemn collects.   That is why we venerate the cross. God has forgiven us, opening the communication between God and us.   In gratitude, let us pray.
-Sarah Colvin
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42
Psalm 22