Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Holy Week 1999

 

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his reverent submission." -Hebrews 5: 7

 

Once during my student days I had opportunity to visit a parish in order to help out with the major service of Easter day. Afterwards while greeting the worshippers as they departed the church the rector received this comment: "Rector that wasn't an Easter sermon; it was a Good Friday sermon." The tone in the woman's voice was neither critical nor angry: but both her voice and her facial expression betrayed a person of great sadness. Each year her rector attempted to preach an Easter message of joy and vision. Each year, for several years, the woman had made very much the same kind of comment as she left the Easter service. Many years later I had opportunity to get to know this woman. She was trapped inside her experience of sadness. She could not break out; no one could completely break through. She understood very well what it is like to offer up prayers with tears; but knowing that those prayers have been heard was an experience which still awaited her.

 

This year Christian preachers everywhere will proclaim anew this truth: Christ is risen! It is a message which many faithful Christians not only confess with their lips but also show forth in their lives. I also know that this message breaks through the experience of loss and sadness for many people only with great difficulty.

 

The gospel writers tell us that Jesus Christ faced something of this himself. "Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me: yet, not what I want but what you want." (Mark 14:36). The gospel writers also tell us that Christ was able to work through this difficult time because of his perfect relationship with God." Truly this man was God's Son" (Mark 15:39). Perhaps our ability to work through a Good Friday kind of experience is connected to our relationships as well. First, there is our relationship to God which for Christians is a relationship with Christ. We learn about God by spending time with Christ and praying with Christ. Secondly there is our relationship with others in the Christian community. It is by being drawn out of our pain and isolation by the Christ in others that we may come to understand that prayers with tears are truly heard with power.

 

The shadow of the cross is often cast over us during our "years in the flesh" but that shadow does not have to become the complete darkness of the tomb. Through the varied ministry of our church in prayer, proclamation and pastoral care our suffering can be redeemed and our lives freed from experiences of sadness. This Easter, even if as a beginning, may you hear and know that Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia.

 

The Rev. Rod Gillis