Thought for the Day from Jan Betts of All Hallows:
When I was a child Good Friday was a time when shops were shut, we went to church as a matter of course and there was definitely no playing out in the street. It’s different now: we shop – in normal times! – enjoy cheerful famly gatherings or go away for a long weekend.
But these are dark times, and today we remember the darkest day of the Christian year. The old testament reading for today is the awful story of Abraham climbing the mountain to the high place of sacrifice with Isaac, his beloved child, asking bewildered questions about what was going to be sacrificed. It’s a harrowing story. Between noon and three pm today we traditionally wait and watch with Jesus through the darkness, until he dies a harrowing death – unlike Abraham, there is no scapegoat in the bushes for him.
This painting by Dali of Christ of St John of the Cross reminds me, as it has done for many years, of that death. But it also reminds us that on the cross Jesus opened wide his arms with a love stronger than death. The arms are open for the whole world, the love is there for everyone.
It also reminds us that the love God shares with us takes us too to the cross: the love God has for us is the love we have for others. In Sheila Cassidy’s book ‘Good Friday People’ she writes ‘I have long since given up asking the ‘why’ of suffering. It gets me nowhere and I know when I’m beat.. but this I do know: more important than asking why, we should get in there, be alongside those who suffer. We must plunge up to our necks in the icy water to hold up the drowning child ..if he dies so be it and if we die with him so be it also’.
Darkness – but the light of love is stronger than the darkness.