Good Friday – 7th April – Penny Ashton

Good Friday Meditation 2023

We may not know, we cannot tell  (Isaiah 53 1-6)

Isaiah foresaw that at the end there would be nothing attractive about Jesus.  Suffering is sometimes described as noble, and I don’t doubt the nobility of Jesus bearing even at this dreadful time.  Even so, I doubt whether, had I been passing by I would have been drawn to him.   In the words of the prophet: ‘nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by others;’.  And yet, far worse for Jesus was not only that he knew that this was to be – had known since at least the start of his ministry, but he also knew that the time was coming when even his Father would turn away from him.  We have the saying: ‘What you never had, you never miss’, but I think the reverse must be even more true – what we have never been without, we don’t know what it is like to lose.  We have never been rejected by God.  Whether or not we knew it, he has always loved us.  At this moment in time, Jesus knew what it was to be rejected, not only by his friends and followers, but also by his heavenly father.  We do not know, we cannot (thank God) tell, what pains he had to bear.

Fixed by Godfrey Rust

Between time and eternity

nothing was fixed.

One gaped at the other

across an unbridgeable void.

Stories of patriarchs

pinned them lightly together.

A loose frame of parables,

scraps of psalms, prophecies, tongues.

Poets tried words;

scientists, numbers;

musicians, delicate vibrations;

painters, the placing of colours

but nothing was fixed

until a workman took a hammer and a wrist

and with one whack nailed down

eternity screaming into time.

There was no other good enough (Colossians 1: 18-22)

Paul was a good student of the Law.  He would have been well aware that a sacrifice to God, to comply with the Law had to be without blemish.  He also understood that no person on earth would have been able to fulfil God’s plan for the redemption of humankind.  Since we have been blessed with free will, and have consistently used it to go at all times counter to God’s will, the only person who would be able to fulfil the plan of redemption would have to be perfect.  And only God is perfect.  And so it was that only God himself, in the form of a man on earth, but one who was in all ways perfect, would be good enough to fulfil the plan that was started with creation.  ‘in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things’.

Economics by Godfrey Rust

Here is the only successful

planned free market

in the history of the world,

where the cost of living

and the wages of sin

are the same

and the rate of exchange is fixed

at one life

given as a ransom

for many.

He died that we might be forgiven (Hebrews 10: 16-18)

The writer to the Hebrew Christians in the early church would have understood about covenants, as would the readers of this letter.  It is possible that it was written because some of them were considering leaving their Christian faith and reverting to their ancestral Judaic faith – which relied on the continuing priestly sacrifices still being carried out in the Temple at Jerusalem.  The purpose of this letter is to remind them that the old covenant has been superseded by Jesus on the cross.  Sacrifice is no longer necessary, as sin has been wiped out.  God is saying: ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.  We thank God daily that this forgiveness is ours, freely given on the cross.

Accomplices by Godfrey Rust

father forgive them

they didn’t know what I was doing

when I slipped into humanity disguised

my light shone in a darkness

they could not comprehend

forgive them all

my dear, dull accomplices

who don’t know the cost

of an immortal’s suicide

they tried to keep us

from this meeting here

forgive the crowd

making the necessary choice of Barabbas

forgive Pilate’s wife

whose conscience nearly ruined everything

forgive Judas

his kiss of death

father forgive them

they don’t know what we are doing

forgive them

they didn’t know what they were building

we were architects

and these rough beams were cut

to meet our most exacting standards

forgive them

they don’t know what will be executed here

how might they understand

these hammer blows would be

the final acts of our first creation

like workmen at the launch

of some great enterprise of state

they come to watch

the ceremony of our fierce ambition

and as they hoist me up to you             

before this brutal act of love

extinguishes my mortal life completely

father forgive them

they don’t know what they’re doing

Dearly, dearly has he loved (John 19: 16b19, 26-30) 

It was not his love for Lazarus that turned Jesus face away from his power base in Galilee and sent him south to Jerusalem.  It was not the kiss of Judas that delivered him to the High Priest and the roman soldiers.  It was not the blows and swords of the soldiers or the baying of the crowd that drove him up the hill to the place of execution.  And it was not the nails that held him to the cross.  He had the power to overcome all these things, and the temptation must have been strong.  What took him there and kept him there was the same as that which led him to make provision, when near to death for the care of his mother.  His motivation throughout all of his ministry was, and remains his love for all creation.  His love for me and for you.  We thought earlier of what it must have been like for him to realise that even his Father had abandoned him to his fate.  Our constant thanks must be for the fact that we will never have to know what it is to lost God’s love for us.  His final words on the cross give us that assurance – ‘It is finished’.

Welcome to the real world by Godfrey Rust

I’m beginning to understand.

I saw a sign once

outside a church. It said

Are you really living

or just walking around

to save the expense of a funeral?

I didn’t know

that Love is real life,

and everything else

is just a more or less entertaining way

of dying,

and I didn’t know

that Love is like nothing on earth.

Love isn’t what you fall in.

It’s what pulls you out

of what you fall in.

Love isn’t a good feeling.

Love is doing good

when you’re feeling bad.

Love means hanging in

when everyone else

shrugs their shoulders

and goes off to McDonalds.

Love means taking the knocks

and coming back

to try to make things better.

Love hurts.

It’s its way of telling you

that you’re alive.

And the funny thing is that after all

Love does feel good.

People say love is weak.

But love is tougher than hate.

Hating’s easy.

Most of us have a gift for it.

But love counts to ten

while hate slams the door.

Love says you

where Hate says me.

Love is the strongest weapon

known to humankind.

Other weapons blow people up.

Only love puts them back together again.

And everything that seems real,

that looks smart,

that feels good,

has a sell-by date.

But love has no sell-by date.

Love is Long Life.

Love is the ultimate preservative.

I don’t know too much about love

but I know a man who does,

up there on the cross

loving us to death.

Love is the key

to the door of the place

he’s prepared for you

in the kingdom of God.

If you’re beginning to understand

then welcome to the real world.

Hymns reproduced under  CCLI 1618191 for St Michael’s Church, Pen Selwood  

Poems copyright Godfrey Rust,,uk.  Used with permission