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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

Good Friday Sermon 2024

Fr. Daniel S.J. Scheid, SCP

Good Friday – March 29, 2024

All Saints’ Episcopal Church, San Francisco

“Love and compassion”

“Don’t read the comments,” is sanity-preserving advice when reading news and posts on social media.

 

“Don’t feed the trolls,” that is, the writers of the comments, is its corollary.

 

A San Francisco friend of mine named Cynthia gave All Saints’ a signed, numbered copy of “Purple Jesus” – an important work of psychedelic art by Alex Gray. It hangs above the desk in my church study; you can see it from the west gate. She posted a photo of “Purple Jesus” on her social media page because today is Good Friday.

 

I read the comments. One stood out.

 

“[It’s a] horrifying image, like all crucifixion representations,” he wrote. “[Christianity is] a twisted religion that focuses on death, eternal suffering, following ancient irrelevant rules, control, and money. It has nothing to do with love and compassion.”

 

Well, now, good sir … tell us how you really feel!

 

I didn’t feed the troll. It’s Good Friday, and I’m really busy and really tired and saw little chance for the writer’s conversion by engaging in social media evangelism.

 

However, I did comment separately, expressing my delight at owning and displaying the print at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, San Francisco (I tagged us, there) for passersby to enjoy.

Were I fresher, and more fool-hardy, I would take on this person’s comment, point-by-point. I’ll stick with the last: “It” – Christianity or the Crucifixion? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure that it matters – “It has nothing to do with love and compassion.”

 

Crucifixion, as developed and employed by the Roman empire, was, to be sure, neither loving nor compassionate. It was a brutal form of terrorism and an excruciating way to die.

 

And yet, for we Christians – and for all of creation that is liberated by Christ’s salvific act – crucifixion, in this one instance, was infinitely loving and supremely compassionate.

 

I’ll repeat the point of last Sunday’s sermon – Christians claim the scandal of the cross: that a shameful instrument of death is, at the same time, the means of our salvation; and … and it is the most tangible, graphic sign we have of God’s love.

 

This is why Good Friday is good.

 

Friday’s Goodness is hammered home in the propers you just heard.

 

For us, God’s family, God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, was willing to die this way. This Suffering Servant was lifted high upon the cross to bear our infirmities, to carry our diseases, and to heal us by his bruises.

 

This was God’s will: for God’s own Self to be crushed with pain, to make intercession for the transgressors (that’s you and me and everyone else), and to submit obediently, reverently, in order to become the source of our eternal salvation.

 

“I am he,” Jesus said at his arrest. “Let these others go.”

 

The crucifixion of Jesus lets us go.

 

That is good … and if that’s not love and compassion, then I don’t know what is.

 

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