Watch and Wait
As I sit to write this blog, it is Friday. More specifically it is Good Friday. There are various theories as to why it is called Good but I don’t want to go into that. Rather, I have been thinking of the real significance of this day and, as some of us gathered to remember last night, Jesus agonising in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to his mockery of a trial and cruel execution on a cross by Roman soldiers. We may indeed wonder what is good about that.
It was Tony Campolo who coined the phrase, ‘it’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming’. I like that for two reasons. Firstly, it points to the hope that the resurrection of Jesus brings to us all. Secondly, it recognises the fact that, ‘it is Friday’.
Today, I have seen well-meaning people post messages on social media wishing their friends a Happy Easter! I don’t mean to sound all bah humbug, like I do at Christmas, but today is not the time. Today is not the day to celebrate. Today is the day to remember well the agonising that Jesus went through over the forsakenness of God.
On this day, we do well to remember how, the night before, his disciples had been unable to keep watch with him for one hour. They kept falling asleep yet he sweated drops of blood. On this day, we do well to remember how most of his followers deserted him. Judas hanged himself. His enemies taunted him and had him flogged. He was despised by his own people and crucified by soldiers of an occupying army. And, if the physical pain and mental anguish of all of that was not enough he cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ‘Tell me, what’s to be Happy about that?
The point is; it’s not meant to be happy. It’s meant to mean that whatever we go through, our darkest of days; He is there with us. Perhaps it is just symptomatic of the world that we live in that we want to move quickly and get to the happy bit, to blank out the pain. However, Sunday is coming. We just need to be prepared to watch and to wait with Jesus.
Last night a group of us gathered at DBC and watched a film about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was one of the founders of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany and was brave enough to speak out against that evil system. Less than one month before the end of the war, having spent considerable time in jail, he was executed. In the film his accuser says to him, ‘this is the end’. Bonhoeffer says. ‘no’, and calmly walked up to the gallows.
He knew that Sunday was coming. Yet, for him, and for many others who occupied the prison cells on death sentences, their calendar was stuck in a long run of Thursdays and Fridays. For Bonhoeffer, Sunday would be waking up in the presence of Jesus.
Of course, I don’t want to finish this on a downer. But, for many people life is a constant downer: for the sick, the bereaved, the addicted, the oppressed, the hungry and the homeless. How can we leave them here to face their Friday on their own? Rather, we walk with them in the knowledge that Jesus walks with us. In the knowledge that, yes, Sunday is coming. But let’s keep watch for it and wait for it – see you Sunday!
A Morning Invocation
God who holds the whole world in your hands,
hear my lamentation as I rise this day.
Hold me when I am weak and lost as you hold the world’s lostness.
Hold me in my anxiety and those who wait with worry pacing the floor.
Hold me when I hear the news I dread and those who stare blankly at the wall.
Hold those who weep and the dry-eyed who are numb.
Hold me when I feel unsafe, and those who fear inside their own home.
Hold me when I try to kill my pain, and those who live to fix theirs each day.
Hold me when I doubt and those who’ve lost their faith in goodness.
Hold those of us marginalised by a centre we never defined.
Hold us when our value is unseen or maligned.
Hold us when our dreams get trampled on or never come true.
Hold all the lonely hearts and hurting souls in this strange cold world I pray.
Hold each and every one of us as we make it through this day.
I came from the womb thirsting
for the succour of a loving one.
Remember me as you thirst for a world more loving.
As I let the darkness of this long lonely night enfold me,
I lay down all the things in my heart that separate me.
Be with those who have felt isolated this day.
Give us good people on our journeys who will take us in, whose shelter connects us to your love this night.
The blessing of God on my strife within.
The blessing of God on the conflict without.
The blessing of God on the patterns that chain.
The blessing of God on the chains that bind us all.
And at this days start/end God’s protection for our world.
 Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel of the Year: Celtic and Christian Seasonal Prayers (Ropley, Hants: 2007, O Books),88-89