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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rev. Rod Gillis