“When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land . . .”

archbishop-at-crossThe title of this post for Good Friday comes from the Gospel of Mark (15:33), where the earth seems to offer its own lament over the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion. In 2010, during Holy Week at Canterbury Cathedral, where this picture was taken, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, gave three lectures on the Gospel of Mark. At the beginning of the first lecture, he described the German Protestant theologian Jürgen Moltmann as “[one] of the greatest Christians of the 20th century,” whose faith is directly tied to this earliest gospel:

Moltmann read Mark with very little preparation, very little Christian background. And he said that there was one sentence in Mark that made him and kept him a Christian. And that was the cry of Jesus from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Here Jesus becomes the companion of those who feel defeated, those who feel abandoned, those who feel God-forsaken. So the arms of the Crucified One embrace even people who believe themselves to be utterly separated from God.

In an article that appeared nearly a decade ago in Christianity Today magazine, “God Behind Barbed Wire,” Philip Yancey described meeting Moltmann and Moltmann’s summary of human history — past, present, and future — in a single sentence that expresses the mystery of the Paschal Triduum:

God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him.

You can listen to Rowan Williams’ three lectures on the Gospel of Mark here.

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