A Time to Sit. A Time for Silence

A time for sitting in company with all who through the ages have known the really bad.

Glynn Cardy
Glynn Cardy

A Time to Sit. A Time for Silence - by Rev Glynn Cardy

This coming Friday has the honorific ‘good’ attached. What’s good about it is that it’s a public holiday. A time to stay in bed, have a slow breakfast, walk in the park, or catch up with family and friends.

And what’s better about it is that on Monday there’s another holiday, making for a glorious long end-of-the-summer weekend.  It takes most of us more than three days to get work out of our heads and bodies and then relax.

Wouldn’t it be great to move around the statutory holidays to create more four-day weekends!  Imagine!  More time to walk on beaches, eat fantastic feijoas, and sip a good book.

What’s not so good about this coming Friday is that it recalls the day when Jesus was tortured and crucified by the Roman occupiers of Palestine.

It was a terrible way to die. Excruciatingly slow. The Romans used pain and death to instill compliance in the populace. It was really bad.

It was also terrible for his followers, his movement. The one they had built up to be their great hope, their ‘Messiah’, was dead and gone, in a very public way. This non-violent, Galilean, religious-political protest movement came to a screeching, let’s-get-out-of-here halt.

Of course those Christians who like quick fixes think it all came right two days later (on Sunday) with a death-defying miracle. As the stories say. As if it all literally happened just like a fairy tale.

But many of us aren’t convinced. Physical death is either physical death or it isn’t. And the life of a movement re-emerging after the death of its leader takes time, and a lot more besides.

So, yes there was a killing Friday. And yes, there was a roll-away-our-blocks Easter. But the distance between the two wasn’t two or three or 40 days. And Easter wasn’t a re-boot with the once-dead-Jesus back in the driver’s seat. It was much more dangerous than that.

There are some preachers, and I’ve heard a few, who do not like the idea of a solemn Friday and a dead Jesus. They get him up, brushed up, exalted and glorified, in double-quick time. The message is, “Don’t worry folks. He’s alright, really. All that blood and wounds stuff he can handle. ‘Cause he’s really God. And God’s got everything under control. So don’t worry. Just believe.”

Control is always appealing to some. And their God is control personified.

Then there are some preachers, and I’m one of them, who just want to spend one day of the year sitting, if you can imagine it, with Jesus’ distraught followers, and all who since have suffered the pain-filled loss of loved ones…

Holding their hands. In silence.

Sitting with pain. Not trying to solve it, escape it, or explain it.

Sitting with emptiness. That feeling that one so full of life has died, and the universe must now have surely stopped.

Sitting without trying to conjure hope.

There’s another thing not so good about this Friday. Bigotry. The Christian version. For in times past bigoted and abusive Christians have used the occasion to regurgitate anti-Semitic slogans and beat up on Jews.

You can still find those slogans floating around today. Like ‘the Jews killed Jesus’ and therefore, so the bigots’ illogical logic goes, they’re to blame and therefore we should beat up on them. Mindless racist violence.

For the record, the New Testament is clear, Jesus died on a cross. Jewish authorities didn’t do crucifixion.

So that’s this coming Friday that has the honorific ‘good.’  A time of remembering the really bad.  A time for sitting in company with all who through the ages have known the really bad.  A time to tell the bigots and those who think God has a master plan for everything, including suffering, to just, for goodness sake, for at least this day, say nothing and keep silent.

It's a time to sit. A time for silence.

(Photo: Kenny Luo - Unsplash)

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