At our annual Memorial Service Friday evening I prefaced the service with these remarks:
On the Christian calendar this is Good Friday, on which is observed the death by crucifixion of Jesus.
It is an awful story, of course, and the emphasis of the Good Friday story is how the world could possibly do this or allow this happen.
Allusions have been made likening the beaten, humiliated Jesus on the cross to the Suffering Servant who is spoken of in the Old Testament’s book of Isaiah who is described like this:
“he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.”
In the ages-old liturgies for Good Friday, there is an part of the service known as “The Reproaches.” One reader details one or another of the abuse heaped upon Jesus in the last hours of his life, and then that’s interspersed by the responses of another who bewails, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? What have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!”
The emphasis the Church has elected to make in its approach to Good Friday is to take the story and ask, “How could we possibly allow this to happen to God?” But I think God would rather up-end that question and ask, “How could we possibly allow this to happen to a fellow human being?”
How could we possibly allow this to happen to a fellow human being?
Yet look: we allow such neglect and abuse to happen to our fellow human beings all the time.
That’s why we’re here this evening.
In life, those we remember this evening may themselves have been “acquainted with infirmity,” perhaps even “despised and rejected,” “held of no account.”
But tonight we will not just pass by. We will remember. And not only remember, but honor.
And bear in mind (in the words of Jay Crowley) that “all our crucifixions are but resurrections unborn.”