The Good Friday Sermon: A Better Way

It was an unspeakably violent and depraved act. The rulers of an oppressed people inflicting an agonizing death on the innocent. What were they thinking? Where was their humanity? As we once again grieve the passion and death of Jesus two thousand years ago at the hands of the Romans, in collaboration with a corrupt religious establishment, we must also grieve the outrageous acts of our own day. There is little difference between the actions then of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem and the actions in our day of Assad in Damascus against his own people.

El muerte del inocente en la Cruz fue un acto de violencia indescriptible. Tenemos que lamentar los eventos del pasado y del presente.
La violencia del gobierno de Syria contra su propia pueblo no es diferente de la violencia de Poncio Pilato contra nuestro Señor.

The faces of the dead and dying in Syria haunt my memory, with bloody noses and pale faces, eyes open and staring, the massacre given pointed focus by the image of Aya and Ahmed, 9-month-old twins, lifeless in the arms of their devastated father. Unspeakable.

Las caras de los niños muertos se permanezcan en mi memoria.

As we come to the Cross tonight we cannot pretend that violence against innocents is something confined to history books or the Bible. It is here, with us, now, in the news reports, in the statistics of child abuse and domestic violence, in the living memories of native Americans and European Jews, and still, as it was 2000 years ago, in the daily lives of the Palestinian people.

Sabemos que la violencia contra los inocentes ocurre en nuestro era, en nuestro mundo.

We come to venerate a single Cross. Imagine, though, if we were to erect a cross for each one of these victims. There would be a forest of crosses, each bearing silent witness to a life cut short.

Podemos imaginar un bosque de las cruces, cada uno de las cuales da testimonio de una vida terminada de repente.

Our culture responds to such tragedy by calling for retaliation, punishment, answering one attack with another. In Syria, an air strike to destroy the base whence the chemical attack originated. In Afghanistan a bomb dropped with almost unimaginable reach and power. A message sent. More lives lost. America’s status restored. But the dead are still dead. We have apparently restored some kind of balance, but what balance can exist while violence is the answer to violence? How is an airstrike justified while we refuse to open our doors to the victims of the attacks?

Atacamos al instalación militar y matamos a más personas. Este no es la respuesta. Y todavía no queremos abrir nuestras puertas a los víctimas.

There is a better way. This death, this man hanging broken on a Cross, shows us a better way. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” His way is the way of the cross. It is the way of repudiating violence, of choosing out of love to submit to the worst humanity can offer, even though it means death. For this is not the end. Good Friday is not the end. The way leads us through suffering, even through the Cross, and we pause here tonight to weep, and to acknowledge our own complicity in all such violence, but there is more. We look beyond the Cross, beyond the darkness and the horror, and we see a glimmer of light, an empty tomb, a new dawn, a promise extended and kept, life that rises up from the grave.

Este muerte nos muestra un camino mejor, el camino del amor que se somete a lo peor de la humanidad. Más allá de la Cruz vemos una luz, una tumba vacía, una vida nueva.

The world’s story is that violence is stemmed by violence. Our story is that violence is not only stemmed but entirely defeated by love, a love that is stronger than death. Once, a corrupt administration condemned an innocent to a cruel death. But in so doing, that government condemned itself, because a new administration was born out of the injustice, an administration of compassion, of generosity, of service, its emblem the empty cross, transformed from instrument of death to token of immeasurable love. And so we venerate the cross tonight, praying in the words of the ancient hymn:

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory, thy relaxing sinews bend;
For a while the ancient rigor that thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty gently on thine arms extend.

Esta noche Veneramos la Cruz y esperemos que los almas de los inocentes matados llegan en el abrazo del Salvador sufriente, y que todos que lloran ahora puedan ser consolados por el sacrificio de nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

May the souls of all murdered innocents be gathered into the arms of the one who suffered so that all might know the fullness of life; and may all who weep tonight find comfort in the awful beauty of our Savior’s sacrifice.

Good Friday Liturgy, April 14 2017
The Very Rev. Penelope Bridges

Like this post? Share it with your friends and family...


Leave a Comment


Because of you, we can continue to serve as a center of transformative love, faith and service!

Have questions or need to make changes?
Feel free to contact us, and we will be more than happy to answer all of your questions.