The Good Friday service is always so powerful, with the chanting of passion from the Gospel of John, the adoration of the Cross, and the chanting of the great reproaches. Each time I find myself hearings and encountering the passion in a different way than before. Not necesarily new but it simply hits me differently.
Today it was that I was presiding (for the first time) at the service and I came to the service with two articles from the Huffington Post about Good Friday and the crucifixion
The first article I read late last night, by Rita Nakashima Broch. The article seems to be saying that to attach anything salvific to the Cross and Jesus Crucifixion, torture in some general way becomes a good. I get rejecting Anselm's theory of the Atonement (though whether what the author critiques is Anselm's theory in its fullness, and he didn't invent it whole cloth as the author gives that impression.) even that the Cross and the Crucifixion of Christ is an uncomfortable, but even if we reject Anselm's theory it seems that other ways of comprehending keep us from simply seeing torture as salvation in itself. In fact that seems to me to be part of the point of all this Through something horrific and evil, By God in human flesh willingly undergoing this evil, transforms human evil and offers us a way through and out: true liberation. An Implement of death becomes in this instance only (not in some generalized way) that which gives life, the tree of life.
And then an article by Paul Raushenbush. Which attempts to more or less well contextualize the crucifixion with God's sacrificial love as the context of the crucifixion as salvific. The author quotes his Great Grand Father Walter Raushenbush in making his case.
Both articles for some reason left me feeling like something was missing,something was being missed, and then the Anglobaptist posted this:
So very beautiful and haunting. Such great beauty in that song and that rendition of it.
So this all was there tonight as I heard the Gopsel chanted. On one hand I heard in ways I had not before the politics of the passion story: the Religious leaders playing off Pilate"s ambitions and anxieties of his position. Pilate playing the magnanimous leader in a situation where he could only win: If He could get the religious leaders to agree to Jesus' and he was the revolutionary he was presented as, then he'd have the excuse to crush. If Jesus wasn't such a figure then his reputation among certain populations of Judea could grow more positive. For the Religious Leaders, they have the chance with Jesus to appear to the Roman authorities as good loyal subjects of the Roman Empire who would even protest when the imperial governor would release a mostly harmless trouble maker. In the end even as Pilate gives in Pilate mocks the Religious leaders, and does so in away that they can only half heartedly protest. Their king is someone in the full control of imperial power, the King of the Jews ends up on a cross. But Jesus is not subject to all the political grandstanding. Jesus endures, and points out the various attempts to grab at power and influence, and shows how he is following another way, that leads through his death on the Cross. Here is some amazing love that can stand and withstand all this to seek to pass through death, to bring all out of the death trap of such ways of politics and the world.
"What Wondrous Love is this" Theories don't capture it, only point to the more that is there, the astounding enormity of what this day means, should leave us speechless and in awe, and tears both of joy and sorrow.