Weekly thoughts from the Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where these words remind us that Jesus’ peace goes with us into the world.
Before we crossed the threshold into the joy of this Season of Easter, we stood before a closed and locked door on Good Friday. It’s the least shallow day of the year, when Christians reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth at the hands of the Romans. The earth also seemed to offer its own lament over his suffering and death. According to the Gospel of Mark,
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land . . .
Although Christianity and forgiveness are mysteriously intertwined because of these terrible and frightening events, too many of us — of our own free will — choose to live in the darkness of unforgiveness. It brings to mind this reflection by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams:
One of the shocking things about the story of Jesus’ death on Good Friday is that he asks God to forgive his torturers when there isn’t even a chance of them saying sorry. ‘Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing’. We talk flippantly sometimes about getting our retaliation in first; well, Jesus gets his forgiveness in first. And he does so, according to the Bible’s account, because those who are torturing him to death ‘don’t know what they’re doing’. They can’t apologise because they haven’t seen the problem. And part of what they don’t see is that they are doing damage to themselves as well as to others.
So the story of Jesus’ death tells us that even before we know what the problem is, God has taken the first step towards mending it. He doesn’t wait for an apology that sounds satisfactory. . . .
It’s the heart of the Good Friday message about God. And it’s the heart of the Good Friday challenge about us and what we think is possible. [The] story of Jesus’ crucifixion simply says, It can be done.
— The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Rector