Friday, April 22, 2011

"Woman, Behold Your Son" -- A Homily for Good Friday

A Homily for Good Friday, 2011
Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Trinity Anglican Church, Bradford ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: John 19:26-27
“Woman behold your son”
-John 19:26

Confronted by the cross of Christ, we are changed. At the foot of the cross, beneath the feet of the crucified Jesus, a new family is born – the Christian community. As Mary his mother wept and the disciple he love best mourned, Jesus comforted them with these words, “Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother.” But these were not simply words of comfort, but rather a radical reordering and recreation of community. Confronted by the cross, confronted by the death of a son, of a friend, of the leader of their movement, these two individuals who might be abandoned, forgotten, left alone, are knit together into one family. The widow and the orphan are drawn together into a new family, the Christian community. “From that hour,” we read, the beloved disciple to the mother of Jesus, “into his own house.”

And so it is, our movement, our religion, is one in which the edges are constantly being challenged. Our family is constantly being transformed and recreated, as others, who might otherwise feel lost and forsaken, are drawn in. Confronted by the cross of Christ, we are called again and again to re-creation, to envisage our family in new and creative ways. We are called again and again to include those whom the world forsakes as part of our family, in our company of friends.

When the family changes, we change, too. It is not always easy to be part of a family. There may be those with whom we disagree. There will be those who challenge us. There will be competing ways of doing things. Yet, there is something greater than our differences that binds us together. What is it? What is the force that makes us one, even when we differ in so many ways? Even when we come together with all our brokenness and sinfulness exposed?

It is the sacrifice of Christ our God on the cross. Jesus said, “When I am lifted up I will draw all people unto me.” At the heart of that sacrifice is the longing of God, longing for all his people, and longing that we may be one. Before he was handed over to death, that was indeed Jesus’ prayer, “Father, I pray that they may be one, even as you and I are one.” And to that end he breathed upon us his Holy Spirit that we might be knit together as a holy and sacred people, who in spite of all our differences, our brokenness, and all our challenges, that we may be one, even as Christ and the Father are one.

To be one may not necessarily mean that we will agree in all things, for some things are indeed a matter of indifference; but do we not agree in this, that Christ died that we might live? Do we not agree in this, that the offering that hangs on the cross is the God’s deepest self-offering of love for his own people? No greater love hath this, than a man should lay down his life for his friends!

“I have called you friends,” says Jesus, and that is what we are, a company of friends, a new family, that seeks to make known to each other, and to the world, the deep compassion of our God through the proclamation of his self-giving love in the cross. We seek to make known in thought, word, and deed the love that knows no boundaries, the inclusive embrace of God in God’s family for all who choose to receive it. We turn one to another in mutual brokenness, each of us knowing loss, exclusion, and forsakenness in some way, and we hear the words of our Lord, “Woman, behold your son,” and “son, behold your mother.” And all things are made new.

c.2011, the Rev. Daniel F. Graves

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