Good Friday

My homily for Good Friday, St. John's Episcopal Church.

Where are you tonight?

The first answer is St. John’s, April 19, observing the Triduum–these three most sacred days of the Church calendar–caught up in remembering the story of Jesus’ last days and hours: Feet washing, breaking bread, venerating the cross, and tomorrow, lighting candles in the darkness.

But when we enter into this Story–this Story that holds all other stories, this story that has been in the writing since creation–we enter into a different kind of time. Not chronos, like our smartphones and watches keep, or the bells of Notre Dame marked for centuries. We enter into kairos, God’s time, and everything changes.

Where are you tonight?

In the past decade, cosmologists have been celebrating the improvement of their scientific instruments. They could see a noisiness to the universe since the 1960s, a radiation that permeated everything, and dated back to the Big Bang. This cosmic microwave background radiation was difficult to measure until recently. Now, it can be measured and has helped those who study such things date the universe to 13.79 billion years old.

That is a lot of candles on the cake.

But this is still chronos time. It is still understood within our small human measuring devices.

God is so much bigger.

In God, we move out of time, our tiny human construct, into a measurement larger than the 13.7 billion years of our universe’s existence.

This seems beyond conception, but the mystics have tried over the centuries to give us images. Julian of Norwich, the 14th century English anchoress, gave us two: the first was of a tiny hazelnut in her palm, that represented all that had ever been made, held together in its smallness by God’s love.

Her second image is of God—God in a point. God is not bound by human time, so a way that Julian and other theologians have imagined God is living all time as if it were one moment, one point. God experiences all of our human history, all the moments of our lives, as if they all happened together. God could see the entire Story of the universe, from start to finish, the entire story of each of our lives, and hold us in in love every moment. Like the hazelnut.

This would also give God access to every moment, forward and back. It would mean that we, through God, are part of all of salvation history in a way that’s more than memory. Orthodox Christians perceive that every Eucharist is a participation past Last Supper, present thanksgiving, both experiences of the eschatological feast of the Lamb at the final restoration of all things.

Where are you tonight?

In God’s Kairos time, everything changes.

Rather than simply being here at St. John’s on April 19th, we are caught up in God’s time, and at the foot of the cross with Mary, Mary Magdalene, and John. We are the disciples. And we join all disciples throughout human history who stand before this cross.

This cross that we venerate is not simply a remembrance of that one night 2000 years ago, but the cross that is planted now in every moment of human history, past, present and future.

Every moment the work of Jesus on the cross occurs, in every time and every place.

No time or place is without God’s love and grace.

So where are you tonight?

Jesus on the cross bears our life. The Isaiah 53 passage tonight reminds us that Jesus entered into human existence and took all of its infirmities and dis-eases. He took on all that it means to be human. Maybe you are living in a moment of pain and illness, and long for Jesus to bear it. That’s where you are in this moment before the cross.

Jesus bears our death. In Jesus on the cross, we see God going before us into death, so we do not go alone. But more, not simply as a comforter, but ultimately he goes before us as a victor over human death. The thief on the cross asks simply, “Remember me Jesus,” and receives the promise of life, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Maybe, like the thief, you are facing death in this moment before the cross–death of the body or death of a way of life–and long for hope.

Jesus bears our love. In this life, with love comes loss. Jesus on the cross sees his mother, losing her son, and sees John, losing his closest friend. Jesus gives them to each other, and in turn, gives us to each other to comfort us in the loss that always comes with loving. Maybe you are living in a moment of loss before the cross and long for Jesus to bear the grief.

And finally, Jesus bears our sin. Again, the Isaiah passage reminds us that Jesus bears the sin that would crush us: the personal experience of sin, that sin (you know the one) what haunts us at three in the morning, and the systemic sin which seems to sicken everything in our world and taint all of our actions. Maybe you are caught in a moment of sin—today or long past—that simply will not let go. Bring it to the cross. The hymn reminds us, “My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, has been nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, O my soul.”

Jesus on the cross is not just 2000 years ago, in the distant outskirts of Jerusalem, in human time. Jesus is on the cross is here and now, in God’s time, and present in every moment of our lives.

Where are you tonight?

Come, be at the foot of the cross.