Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

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Good Friday: March 29, 2024

At St. John’s we have been offering a new class called “Being With” that focuses on the spiritual goodness of being present to God and to one another, and of allowing God to be with us. To deepen our capacity to be with God is a simple but rich and rewarding pursuit.

But on Good Friday, we explicitly face the opposite. On Good Friday we experience being without. We face the moment when Jesus breathed his last, dying on the cross just outside the walls of Jerusalem on a Friday afternoon roughly two millennia ago.

Liturgically, many churches have an interesting practice of keeping a small amount of blessed bread and wine to be shared as Communion at the Good Friday service. This bread and wine are always blessed the day before at the Maundy Thursday service. They are saved to be fully consumed during the Good Friday service. At the moment when there is none left, the sanctuary candle that marks Christ’s presence is extinguished. A little wisp of smoke rises from the now dark wick. We cannot help but feel the absence of Christ’s presence.

Knowing emptiness is important. It helps us become able to know fullness.

Only by experiencing a journey downward will we be capable of knowing the full meaning of up. (I recommend Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward for more on this theme.)

These final, dramatic days of descent into darkness and absence come before the invitation at last to journey upward with Christ at Easter.

Ultimately, God desires for us all to know life in its fullness. But in order to really do so, we must first experience the emptiness of absence.

Rob Fisher

Links to the appointed readings for today

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