Douglas Spencer (dougs) wrote,
Douglas Spencer
dougs

Good Friday

Today is the most difficult day of the whole calendar, emotionally. I woke up crying for reasons unconnected with anything that's going on here and now, in my own life or the lives of my immediate friends.

From heaven you came, helpless babe,
Entered our world, your glory veiled;
Not to be served but to serve,
And give Your life that we might live.


You see, my whole faith is centred around the events of the coming weekend. What happened today, and on Sunday, nineteen-hundred-and-some years ago, is the core of my belief system. There would be no point to the events of Christmas were it not for the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. There's more emotion invested in this dense little knot of festivals than there is in the whole of the rest of the year. Of course my faith plays with my mind, it's the same for all people of faith. But it is Good Friday on which it does so most effectively.

This is our God, the servant king. He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.


What is offered to Christians at Easter is an impossibly good deal. Guaranteed redemption, no questions asked. It's there for the asking, you just have to reach out and take hold. All the consequences of your sin washed away as if they had never been, and there's nothing to pay, because the price has already been paid, at Christ's expense.

There in the garden of tears,
My heavy load He chose to bear;
His heart with sorrow was torn,
'Yet not my will but Yours,' He said.


Jesus had a choice. On Thursday night after the Seder, Jesus and the gang went up onto the Mount of Olives close to the centre of Jerusalem to pray, and in the garden there, Jesus carefully considered what was to happen over the course of the next 24 hours. He knew what was coming. He thought hard about it. He asked God if there was any other way to accomplish this incredible deal, and finally conceded that he would go through with it. He didn't have to -- it was a choice.

This is our God, the servant king. He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.


Jesus was arrested, there in the garden, by a team of chief priests and temple guards. He was identified by one of his own disciples. He went quietly, although there was a scuffle between one of the disciples and one of the high priest's servants. He was taken away, there was a short trial, and he was tortured and executed. Some people dwell on how he was treated, but I feel that's less than helpful -- I'd rather think about the underlying story.

Come see His hands and His feet,
The scars that speak of sacrifice;
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered.


So there's this huge contrast, between God who creates all things, ordains all things, drives all things, God who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, God who is fully in charge and totally involved in everything that happens ... and this man who was taken away and killed by the heads of his religion and the occupying state because his preaching made them nervous.

This is our God, the servant king. He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.


It's a strange concept. Here is Jesus, the bodily incarnation of God, surrendering to execution by mere human powers for the purpose of a wider plan. Because he knows that it's the will of God. And the thought of someone who loves me that much dying cripples me emotionally ... all the more so because he's doing it for my benefit. And it cripples me emotionally every year, in just the same way.

So let us learn how to serve,
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other's needs to prefer,
For it is Christ we're serving.


Of course, like every piece of rhetoric, this story demands a response. In the face of a deal like this, I can't help but reach out and take this offer of redemption, and with it the life of service that's mandated alongside it. Periodically the question arises whether I should go and work for the Church full-time, and my response is always that I can achieve more outside it. If I was saying all this from a pulpit in a church, I'd have thirty people who routinely involve themselves in church anyway sat in front of me falling asleep or thinking about the football. Instead I have a bunch of people who routinely involve themselves in SF fandom or alternative sexualities, and there's an outside chance that at least some of them have read this far. And I'd much sooner make people think than send them to sleep any day.

This is our God, the servant king. He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.

    "The Servant King" by Graham Kendrick,
    © 1983 Kingsway's Thankyou Music.


I'm glad to be of service.
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