The absence of God- what makes this Friday “Good”?

Good Friday 2014Good Friday – 2014

(Read in conjunction with the Good Friday liturgy on this site

https://swallowsrest.wordpress.com/good-friday-liturgies/)

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A bare church, an empty altar speaks to me of absence – God’s absence.

The Bible is full of God’s absence, times when people have called to God and have been met with silence. Of all the biblical images of absence, Jesus’ cry from the cross and his ultimate death are the most poignant.

If Jesus is God, where is God when Jesus hangs dying on the cross? Is there a moment when there is no God?

If Jesus is God – and we believe that he is – then God is Jesus and Jesus is dying/dead.

How can it possibly be Good Friday? The shocking failure of Jesus’ potential, Jesus’ promise, the destruction of the hopes of all who followed him, the brutality of the crucifixion are anything but “good”.

“My God, my God, why?

The paradox is this – God’s apparent absence is also God’s ultimate presence.

The cross confronts us with the uncomfortable truth that God is so intimate, so completely identified, with the human condition, that God would go so far as to share a human death. You can’t get any closer to human experience, to us than that.

This is perhaps the ultimate contradiction. Not only that Jesus’ death is God’s death, but that God’s death is a confirmation of God’s deep, unswerving, unreserved love for us – a love shown by God in Jesus who not only goes through the motions of dying, but who actually dies – dies a we will all one day die.

It is a contraction – God’s absence serves to demonstrate God’s intense, immediate, never-ending presence with us and in us.

 

And that is what makes this Friday “Good.”

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