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Good Friday

May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Last night we explored how the Servant King who never sinned shared a meal, entered a contract with us, a covenant with us, by breaking the bread and sharing the wine. This New Covenant, this new promise of sins forgiven and life everlasting, only sealed a few hours ago at the last supper must now be paid for. Jesus goes to the cross to die, to be destroyed, to be buried.

When I was burning the holy oil in the garden, as the oil burnt and the paper towels burnt to a crisp, I couldn’t help reflecting on how that holy oil, treasured for the last year, used to anoint the dying, the sick, the baptised and those who are being blessed, this special thing is being utterly destroyed. There was nothing left, the oil had burnt, there was only smoke and ashes. It feels like it has been desecrated.

There is desolation and desecration in Good Friday. Our Lord led to die on the tree, in the place of the skull, there was to be nothing left, nothing remained, just broken dreams and shattered promises, or so the witnesses thought. Just despair, no longer vibrant life, but a broken body, tortured, crowned in thorns, naked, dejected, destroyed. In the utter shock of fallen humanity killing their creator, the world shock, the curtain was torn in two and the centurion proclaimed ‘Surely, this Man was God’s Son’.

As I watched the oil and paper burn in the garden, heat from the flames took floating flakes of ash floating into the crisp air. They floated lazily until coming to rest across the garden. Here is the thing with ash. Still to this day, in many forested parts of the world, farmers will enter the jungle, cut down all the vegetation and set fire to it. After the fire has died down, they plant their crop in it. Why? Because, in the ash rich soil, now fertile, new life readily springs up, fruit in abundance is produced. The ash of the forest provides for the farmers crops and for their family’s needs.

The ash from the holy oil seems utterly spent, utterly useless. But from that ash will spring new life. The garden will grow brighter. The oils story has not finished. On Good Friday we see our Lord reduced to nothingness, to ash and dust, just an empty husk nailed to a cross. And we know, that from the emptiness of Christ crucified not only a little life will come, but all life. The sacrifice is made, the payment is complete, the blood drips down, it is finished, but in many senses, it is just beginning. Life, true life in all abundance has been won for fallen humanity. But not yet.

For now, we sit with the ash, the death, the cost. Creation holds it breath. The limp Saviour of the World hanging on the tree, the life of Him gone. We weep, we watch. And we wait.   

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