I still can’t believe that it is Good Friday, as I said earlier this week time seems to have rushed by so quickly, and the fact that Easter Sunday is almost upon us seems impossible. That said I do feel that this year I have been able to savour the journey through Holy Week. Oddly illness has meant that I was able to spend time considering liturgies and entering into the story in a deeper way that I might have done had the week been busy with meetings and other appointments. I decided that as part of my recovery that I would not dive headlong into frenetic activity, but that I would limit myself to one activity per day.
From Palm Sunday onwards I have been able to follow the steps of Jesus, the story of his encounter with injustice as he cleared the temple courts sat as a backdrop to the onging discussions about the budget and the political reactions and ramifications that have slowly been unfolding.
His willingness to challenge authority even in the shadow of the cross must speak into the terror attack in Brussels, and the many reminders that terrorism and oppression is not simply a western problem, but one that affects some parts of the world on a daily basis.
On Wednesday I was challenged to remember to take time out to recieve, and in some sense formed the first part of my undoing as the hymns and prayers opened my heart afresh to the depths of God’s love and acceptance afresh.
Last night in New Central Methodist in Blackpool we gathered to tell the story of the Last Supper and the agonies of Gethsemane, recieving bread and wine in our hands as a blessing and an encounter with the one whose brokeness came very close in our thoughts and prayers. Leaving in darkness and silence, with a small flickeing candle reminding us that there is always hope was both poignant and sobering. For me the words of the Taize Chant “Within or darkest night” echoed with the reminder that he has brought me through times of darkness before, and I have never been alone.
Today however I found myself undone,and not in a bad way, as I drew close to the one who had suffered so much and allowed his story to touch mine I knew myself loved. I knew again that while I believe that all of creation is included in the promise of forgiveness, restoration and redeption, that that promise is also personal to me.
There was of course no bread to nourish, nor wine to sooth our souls today, only the story, and what a story, the place where love and suffering meet, and love overcomes even death. I was grateful to be able to enter into the story slowly, the reminders of last nights communion service still filling my heart I began by finishing a painting, and then putting the finishing touches to this afternoons prayers.
The service was simple, gospel readings, meditations, prayers and hymns, and once we had recounted and meditated upon those awful and awesome words “It is finished” we sang “You laid aside your majesty”, as we did so O placed the crown of thorns and two nails upon the cross and I was undone. The emotion of placing the nails struck me with a surprising force and I knew that I was accepted and loved in a deeper way than I have allowed for a long time.
These last few years Holy Week has been busy, in fact I must admit that I have kept myself as busy or distracted as possible in order to get through the deep emotions that this season calls forth, but not this week, and not today. The slower pace opened me to the possibility of God’s healing, and as I read the meditations I encountered that healing! I found that the word of God in Christ was living and active in my life as I responded to the gospel accounts.
It struck me as I drove to the station after the service to collect my son that I have used busyness and other distractions to hold the deep, deep love of God at arms length, and I am not going to beat myself up over that, because I think the truth is that I was not ready for the kind of healing that I found today in that simple act of placing nails onto the cross. I did not want to be loved that fiercley because I was still too raw for such an encounter, even though I have preached love and known love, and tried stumblingly to follow love, today it met me in a different way.
Today I allowed love into my brokenness and did not try to hold myself together, and all is well, and I feel at peace even in the darkness, even in a world in turmoil and in my imperfect life…
Tomorrow I holds one more reflective event before the celebrations of Easter Day, Holy Saturday has long been very important to me with its themes of waiting and longing and grief. Four years ago when my now ex-husband had just left, and my world was turned upside down, I was told by a friend and mentor to allow the Holy Saturday experience to do its work, and today I wonder if that light and peace and love that I have encountered are getting ready to lead me into a new day, I am undone, and I think that is a good thing.