O Lamb of God, Forgive Thy Butchers.
And so, this is the day.
The day when the angry mob baying for blood gets their way, the day when they trade the Messiah sent to them for the Messiah they wanted, welcoming the insurrectionist Barabbas back from the dead, and sending the Lamb of God off to slaughter.
The day when hope is crushed under the weight of empire and religion.
The day of failure and darkness and tears, of forsakenness and abandonment…
… of whips and clubs.
… of spitting and swearing, of mocking, biting, ridiculing words—”Save yourself, you pathetic king!”
… of a sponge full of vinegar.
… of the furious scrubbing of guilty hands, of the blood never coming out.
… of thirty pieces of silver and a guilty rope.
The day for “business as usual” in a world addicted to violence (Kenya, Syria, Nigeria… Kyrie Eleison), a world where there is one way, only one way, that threats are dealt with, a world where killing is easy. Where killing has always been easy.
This is the day of the murder of God.
On this day, the terrible, holy Friday that would somehow become “good,” I am praying these words from Frederick Buechner’s The Hungering Dark:
O Thou who comest,
Who art the hope of the world, give us hope. Give us hope that beyond the worst the world can do there is such a best that not even the world can take it from us, hope that none whom thou hast loved is ever finally lost, not even to death.
O Thou who died,
In loneliness and pain, suffer to die in us all that keeps us from thee and from each other and from what we have it in us at our best and bravest to become. O Lamb of God, forgive thy butchers.
O Thou who didst rise again,
Thou Holy Spirit of Christ, arise and live within us now, that we may be thy body, that we may be thy feet to walk into the world’s pain, thy hands to heal, thy heart to break, if need must be, for the love of the world.
Thou risen Christ, make Christs of us all. Amen.
The image above is taken from the 2014-15 Christian Seasons Calendar. It is a piece called “Earmarked,” by Gillian Ross, and I’ve caught myself staring at it many times week.