By: Maggie Leonard
Reflection—v. 31, the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath
I recently read a powerful book called The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. In this book, a runaway slave escapes a plantation in Georgia and makes her way to the Free States. Each state that she passes through on her journey has different laws that dictate how to control the black populations within them. North Carolinians, fearing a slave uprising, abolished slavery, and the state bought up all the slaves, sold them to neighboring states, and forbade black folks to set foot on their soil. To do so and be caught (and they looked for folks every night) meant to be hung in the city square and by morning moved to the road leading to town, ‘Freedom Trail.’ Turning people into issues is a dangerous business. I cannot help but consider who we sacrifice as an issue… What do we see as a threat to our power or comfort? What bodies do we then remove from the public eye? I believe that we are a good people, with good intentions. My hope is that we trust our goodness enough to have the courage to see when our intentions miss the mark. My hope is that with God’s help, we will see one another’s humanity and honor one another’s value.
Prayer Crucified One, help us to see that which we try hard to hide.
On Friday, April 14th, Good Friday, join us for an urban Way of the Cross in the heart of Atlanta. We will read the passion narrative from the Gospel of John as we journey together through the streets, connecting moments from Jesus’ passion with the suffering that our sisters and brothers experiencing homelessness continue to experience today.
We will have a picnic lunch at 11am and begin the walk at noon, both in Freedom Park (behind Moe’s). Our time will be filled with scripture reading, songs, prayers, and reflection.
WHEN: Friday, April 14th, 11:00am (behind Moe’s Southwestern Grill)
WHERE: Freedom Park
By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—19.37, look on the one whom they have peirced
God did not kill Jesus. We did. Is there a sense in John’s Gospel that Jesus knew his execution was coming, even that it ‘had to be’? Yes. Could we say with John that God willingly gives Jesus to the world, and did Jesus knowingly and without resistance go to the cross? Yes. But that willing giving and faithful going was not to fulfill some strange, hidden scheme of our redemption, masterminded behind the scenes of a celestial chess match. It was for love, as simple as that. It was love that demanded the cross, as always happens when love meets hatred face to face. The cross is what we do to love. We must see it as it is, and in doing so, see ourselves as we are, fully and truly. We must see ourselves as those who, along with all the world, hate love, whether we would ever admit it so baldly were we not confronted with it. We are, in a word, like all of humanity, sinners. Seeing ourselves as sinners is the beginning of true spirituality, a way towards life from the darkness of death. But this is not all. Because it is love that has been crucified, the very action of putting love to death reveals an overflow of the heart of love. Blood and water, life and Spirit, forgiveness and mercy flow like a redeeming stream from heart of the one whom we have pierced. We must look and look again–and finally believe.
Prayer Crucified One, help me to see and love love—never again stopping it.
By: Maggie Leonard
Reflection—v. 5, ‘I am…’
As a cradle Presbyterian, Good Friday is a hard day for me theologically. I did not spend much time growing up contemplating the cross, and songs that seem to suggest we bathe in Christ’s blood give me the heebie-jeebies. In fact, I used to say that I am not a Christian because of Jesus’ death—everyone dies—but because of his resurrection. So what about Good Friday, then? It is said that suffering is brought about by our resistance to pain. In John’s Gospel, we clearly see Jesus surrendering to the challenges and painful events set before him. In the garden, when approached and questioned by the soldiers, Jesus replies with an affirmation of his identity that is also an invocation of the divine name, ‘I am.’ What do we resist, try to control, and hide from? New life cannot be brought about without death—the death of old habits, the death of ego, the death of lies, the death of unhealthy relationships, the death of fear. Let us, like Jesus, embrace new life in the face of death, knowing who we are in God.
Prayer Jesus, death holds no sway over me, for with you, death can only lead to new life.