Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday: Guilty as charged

Each day this week I have awakened not knowing what I would put on this blog, and today I am at more of a loss to know. I have had no plan this week, other than to experience Holy Week as much as I can and share with you what that has been like for me. I found last night's Maundy Thursday service at St. Paul's deeply moving; Pastor Janet gave us a homily about how the church must proclaim a God who is present with us no matter what mess or stress we may find ourselves in.

Good Friday, as you know, is the day we remember the execution of Jesus on the Cross. We will gather again at St. Paul's at noon, 5 pm, and 8 pm to remember the events of that Good Friday long ago, and wonder why it is "good," and to pray. People will gather in churches and meeting places all over the globe to do the same thing, and the passion story will be told thousands of different ways and in millions of hearts. 

The readings assigned this morning in our lectionary are heavy with the language of blood atonement and sacrifice. We hear the story of Abraham nearly killing his son, Isaac. We hear from Peter telling us we are saved by the "precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect."

It is as if the Church is searching for words and images to make sense of this event, and by so doing, make sense of all the Good Fridays we inflict around the globe on each other: wars in Iraq, genocide in Darfur, drug wars and beheadings along the Mexican border. How can God tolerate all this blood? Does God really require this "sacrifice"? So, this morning, I give you a small item from Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi death camps. The photograph on this post is from Dachau.
On the Trial of God 
By Elie Wiesel (Romanian) b. 1928

During the war, in one of the camps one evening, three Jews, who before the war were heads of academies, sages, learned men, and who all knew the Talmud by heart, decided that the time had come to do something about it, to indict God. And they conducted a trial. I was very young then. But I remember I was there. They sat on the bed one evening and they began the trial, the trial of God, with all the arguments for and against. And it lasted a couple of days. It was very serious, very dramatic. There was a certain gravity, a certain solemnity in every word they uttered because they knew that whatever they say has an impact, whatever they say is being heard. And I remember that after many days the verdict came. And the verdict was: “Guilty.” But, then, the head of the tribunal simply said: “Now let’s go and pray.”

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