Sermon: St Alban’s, Good Friday, 25 March 2016


Rev. Catherine Eaton

Readings: Is 52.13-53.12, Ps 22, 1 Cor 1.18-31, Jn 18.1-19.42

It’s been a long night. Dark. It’s hard to think back to that meal, our last meal together. How quickly things have turned…. Ugly. We didn’t see it coming. He’s dead now, or as good as.

I think he tried to warn us, but it’s hard now – hard to remember. It’s all a blur and there’s that sick feeling – you know that dull disbelieving when death has visited, that relentless ache. Makes it hard to remember.

Bits of memory come unbidden though, bursting through the fog, sharp, like the piercing of a sword, fragments of a world that’s gone.

What was it he said again? Something about the bread…….. but then there was Judas and that chill wind that came in the door when he went out. Jesus was talking about love – no that was later – but it sounded nice at the time. That’s right – he washed our feet. Crazy thing, but what does it all matter now? He’s gone. The dream’s gone. Seemed a good idea at the time – he made it seem possible.

But he’s dead and we’re in a worse place than we were before we even met him.

…..Peter said he didn’t know him…. and it was Judas that betrayed him. Some of the women stayed at the cross, but who knows where the rest of us are. Hiding, I suppose. They’ll come for us now, and what’s it all been for?

I wish I could remember. There was something he said last night – seemed important at the time. But I suppose it doesn’t matter now. Something he said we’d need. It obviously didn’t help him, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. It just hurts when the memories come – the times we travelled with him in the dusty places, and the people he healed, and that day when there was all that bread and fish which seemed to come from nowhere. And how, just last week, was it – he went into the temple and had a go at all the pigeon-sellers. Threw their tables over. We were scared. He seemed to know what he was doing. But I guess not.

What do you do with the pain? I’ve lost family members before, but the grief was never like this.

What was it he said again – just last night?

That’s right – he told us to love one another. Well that’s gone out the window. It seems it’s each man for himself now. Maybe the women have stuck together, but I don’t think they’re in as much danger as the rest of us.

Odd – one thing I do recall – when we were about to eat last night, he broke the bread and said this is my body, and then took the wine and said this is my blood. It’s coming back to me now – he said, therefore when we eat the bread and drink from the same cup he becomes part of us. We are in him and he is in us….and we’re all one, sharing the one life, his life.

Well, he’s dead. And the community’s scattered, closed in on ourselves with our grief and despair – and our guilt, I guess.

Probably we could have tried harder to save him. Peter tried to fight them off when they came to take him, but after he sliced off the guard’s ear, Jesus had a go at him and told him to back off.

I don’t get it. Perhaps Jesus was just too idealistic, not really sure what he was doing, and we all went along with it because… there was something about him.

He healed people for goodness sake, and he took on the religious heavies, and he made us feel we could make a difference. And you know what – he loved us. Really. He talked to us like we were his brothers and sisters, he laughed with us and taught us stuff and he made us feel like even God loved us, and like we were part of something bigger that God was doing.

So I suppose after this it’s back to how it used to be. I guess Andrew and Peter and some of the others will go back to fishing. But how can any of us go back to how it was. Stuck – we’re just stuck in this place – this nothing place – can’t go back, but there’s nothing to go forward to. What’s it all been for?

I wish I could remember what he said, what he told us last night. It seemed important at the time and maybe it would help now. Maybe it will come back.

I do remember the towel. I can still feel its roughness against my feet when he washed them. I remember him now wiping off the dust, making muddy streaks on my foot, and then the water as he washed it clean. Did I see his tears fall into the water as he knelt at my feet? Probably not – it’s all a blur now.

But ah, yes, he did say if I, your master, wash your feet, you need to wash one another’s. And he talked about serving each other. Well again, that’s gone out the window. Each for himself now it seems.

But Jesus called us his friends, and said the world wasn’t like we thought it was. I don’t know what he said now but something like we’re all equal in God. Tell that to Pilate and Herod and all the rest. It seems the world is exactly like I thought it was. Power always wins, and we can’t ever believe otherwise.  How stupid was I to get my hopes up, that there could be another way.

Love one another he said. I really wish we could. Really wish it was that easy.

There was the bread and the wine that he talked about last night…..and the towel – the service thing. But there was something else. I think. Or did I imagine it? Something dark – this fog in my mind – I can’t remember……..

Shadows. It just seemed a normal meal, but there were shadows. At least now we know what Judas was up to – I’d always liked him, so I don’t get what he did. Maybe it’s his fault Jesus died. But Jesus talked about the cross quite often lately, as if he knew they’d get him. Perhaps Judas just brought on the inevitable. But how can we ever forgive him? He was one of us, and look what he’s done to us. Gone, all gone. and now we’re all at risk. Will he also sell us out?

But that’s it – that’s the other thing – it was the cross – that was the other thing he said. Remember: the bread, the wine, the towel……and the cross…. He knew. Jesus knew, but why didn’t he go away, leave Jerusalem, hide? He could have – we even tried to tell him, but it’s as if he chose this. Why? What was he trying to prove? He wasn’t an idiot I don’t think. He walked into this. Walked into this and he died. Of course he was going to die. They would win. They always do. Did he really think he could achieve something by setting himself up like that? Stupid!

No the political wheels of power had turned too far. Even we could see Jesus had become a nuisance, a problem. One way or other they were going to get him.

But why did he just walk into it. Why? Makes no sense to me…….and now he’s dead. Feels like everything’s dead. Don’t know what will happen now. There’s nothing. Life will never be the same again. Just a black hole and he’s left us all in it.

But I do miss him. There’s something still we need from him.

Dear Jesus. Miss him badly. He meant well, but it seems he got it so wrong. Still – I wouldn’t have missed that time with him. Just don’t know what’ll happen now. It just hurts that he’s gone – it’s all gone.

And it’s just too painful to remember.


Catherine Eaton