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10 April 2020

Good Friday in Bad Times

Rev’d Dr Andrew Cameron, Director of St Mark’s, reflects on the cross at an unforgettable time in our human history.

I reckon our lives feel shabby right now. Bored, restless, stressed, futile. Everything that meant something is menaced. Sure, there are hidden graces worth celebrating among it, and one day, we will. But today, today… ambiguous school terms at their last gasp; buckets of email, well-meaning, or virtue-signalling, or rent-seeking; distracted, harried lecturers, managers, supervisors; work slowed to molasses among the IT that never just works; lumpen teenagers irritably grunting through their hundredth turgid hour of online gaming; anxious or detached partners who just refuse to connect… All at a point in human history, at least as we’ve known it, where we can’t predict and can’t plan, all the while glimpsing spectres of our worst selves.

The issues were different, but I reckon the vibe was similar, on that last Friday with Jesus and first Saturday without him.

Even punctuated by history’s most epic dinner between friends—itself tainted with suspicion and betrayal—it had been a very, very tough week. Jesus and his band are clearly in deep trouble with the powers who run their Temple and its town. Then, it all comes so quickly to a head after dinner, with arrests, sleeplessness, exhaustion, gutless cowardice, witch-hunts, and gruelling, terrible torture. Seething, adrenaline-fuelled angry crowds; jostling, accusation and recrimination; and a few short hours into the rising sun all they’d begun to trust and build upon hammered—incomprehensibly, helplessly, pointlessly, barbarously and breathlessly—onto dirty stinking wood.

All the ‘disciples’ within this mess can do, can rise to—with the exception, largely unnoticed, of a few good women—is: Run. Bug out. Deny and hide and run some more. All at a point in human history, at least as they’ve known it, where they can’t predict and can’t plan, all the while glimpsing spectres of their worst selves.

It says that the One about to die, ‘loved them to the end’ (John 13:1). He also loved while he died: his mother, his killers, those dying with him. He even loved his Father, whom he thought had turned on him. This love, homed in a feeble, frail, heaving, dying body, flickers on as the only constant in the whole ignoble, bleak, human-riddled mess.

Maybe you feel as frazzled, ordinary, disappointed in yourself, overwhelmed, apprehensive and hopeless (or at least hope-challenged) as others do today. Good Friday points you to one who loves you to the end, at our very worst, least noble, most sinful and despondent and harried and distracted.

He will rise, and will restore. But for today, in all your utter, average ordinariness, just know this:

He loved us, to his end.

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