[Now] comes the high solemn feast of God’s dark glory and grandeur. Now begins the most awesome and terrifying time in the Church year. Now begins our vigil; we wait, we stand beside and with our God who loves us and suffers with us, beside us, for us. But we can stand with our God only insofar as we stand beside and wait in active and compassionate solidarity with children, women, and men who suffer concretely, unbeautifully, and actually in our world which is God’s world—the poor, oppressed, and excluded; abused children, battered women, and homeless men; those who believe, those who believe differently, and those who are afraid to believe. We stand and wait in love for Love to cast upon us the rays of dark, divine glory. (M. Shawn Copeland, Sermon for Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017)
In Christ, God enters into solidarity with the pain, sorrow, sin, and struggle of humankind. This is the arduous truth with which we must come to terms each and every Good Friday: that this is how our God puts his ‘glory and grandeur’ on display—by suffering and dying with and for us. As womanist theologian M. Shawn Copeland reminds us in our lesson today, God suffers not only in solidarity with humankind writ large—though that—but suffers in solidarity in particular with the poor and the oppressed, those whom Jesus calls ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25). The startling message of Christianity is that God died on a hill outside the city walls of Jerusalem, crucified amongst criminals, in order that we and our whole world, from bottom to top, might subsequently share fully in God’s own life and love. This is the truth with which we must come to terms. This is the wreckage we must learn to see as beautiful, the carnage in which we must learn to see ‘God’s dark glory and grandeur.’
Let us pray: Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Go: In the Solemn Collects chanted today at the Good Friday liturgy, we will pray for “all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind,” first among whom are named “the hungry and the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed,” as well as “the sick, the wounded and the crippled … those in loneliness, fear, and anguish … those who face temptation, doubt, and despair … the sorrowful and bereaved … prisoners and captives, and those in mortal danger.” Who has God put on your heart and mind this Holy Week? As you meditate on the Cross of Christ today, consider how you can share the light and love of our Lord’s resurrection with them in the coming days.