Good Friday Reflection

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches

Friday, April 14, 2017

John 18-19

 

Prayer.

 

We know someone is about to die.

It’s like that thriller on the big screen,

Of a man running down a long hallway

With lights going out behind him.

It’s like that ghastly news reel from a street corner CCTV,

Of a suicide bomber walking into the frame

Standing next to unsuspecting victims

And the very last moment before the video turns to black.

This evening

We’ve known someone was about to die.

 

We know Jesus is the one doing the dying.

We have just experienced the Passion narrative.

It isn’t as if we haven’t heard it or read it many times before.

We know the plot,

The characters,

The outcome.

From a garden encounter, sword play, and arrest,

To Jesus bowing his head and giving up his spirit,

We know Jesus is the one doing the dying.

 

We know we are all about to die.

Oh, these mortal bodies begin to betray us.

Aches and pains and doctor visits

Remind each of us

That, one day,

We will be told of our mortal diagnosis.

Our peers begin to thin.

Fewer show up for reunions.

Meeting others at funeral homes and memorial services

Become increasingly frequent.

Ash Wednesday, Memorial Day, and All Saints Days become rhythmic reminders

That we are all about to die.

 

We do not know with certainty what happens when we die;

God’s mysterious nature is preserved.

Near death narratives capture our imagination.

Walking to the light

Leads one to balance

The scientific - oxygen starvation,

On the one hand,

And the theological - light of God,

On the other.

But of those who have been resurrected from the dead;

Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter, raised by Jesus;

Tabatha, raised by Peter;

And Eutychus, raised by Paul;

Each lived again

Only to die another day.

So, they’re not talking.

No one knows with certainty what happens when we die.

 

So, what DO we know?

 

We do know that God loves us.

God loves us enough to create us in God’s own image,

To give us the stewardship of God’s wondrous Creation,

And to make an eternal Covenant with us

and with our future generations

that God will be our God

and we will be His people.

We do know that God loves us.

 

We do know that God loves us enough to send us His Son.

Righteousness was too heavy a burden to lift,

An expectation too high to reach,

A hope that was just one bridge too far to cross.

God became our righteousness

When He sent us His Son,

Jesus Christ,

To remove the stain of our original and actual sins.

To wipe clean our slate

As if we were recreated

Brand-spanking-new.

We do know

that God so loves us

that he sent us His only begotten Son.

 

We do know that God’s love is eternal,

Therefore, we believe life is eternal, too.

Why else would Jesus promise

“Lo, I will be with you always,

Even to the end of the earth”?

Why else would Jesus promise

“Where I go

I will bring you unto myself,

So that where I am

You might also be”?

Why else would Jesus pray to the Father,

“This is eternal life,

That they may know you,

The only true God,

and Jesus Christ

Whom you have sent”?

Why else would our resurrected Lord,

Gift to us the eternal presence of the Holy Spirit?

The resurrected Spirit of Jesus is with us

And is in us.

Therefore, we know God’s love is eternal,

And that life is eternal, too.

 

We believe this:

Even as the body of Jesus is laid in the tomb,

Death cannot keep him.

Likewise, we believe that death cannot keep us, either.

So, let us prepare to visit Jesus

First thing Sunday morning,

Right before dawn’s first light.

 

Death does not win.

The grave knows no victory.

This is what we believe.

This is what we know.

Death cannot keep you or me.

With Jesus,

There is only life,

Life eternal.

Amen.