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Sabbatical Day 69, Good Friday: Jesus Is Crucified

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Here is the Damaris Trust video for Good Friday. Andrew White talks about the importance of Jesus’ death on the cross on our behalf. He discusses what this means for his ministry of reconciliation in Iraq.

We went into town this morning for the annual open-air united service in Chelmsford High Street. A band from the church where we are worshipping led the music, and the choir from our children’s school dazzlingly performed a selection of songs from a musical entitled Resurrection Rock.

A nun from a local community spoke. Hers was a serious address where she spoke of Bad Friday and Good Friday. Today is only Good Friday because it is about redemptive suffering. Anything else would be Bad Friday. Suffering isn’t good for its own sake. She spoke passionately as one who had spent years in the Democratic Republic of Congo, serving women and young girls who had been raped by HIV positive men, young boys who had been brutalised into becoming child soldiers and mothers who had watched children die from diseases we find easily preventable in the West.

And from that, she made a connection between Good Friday and Easter Day. For whenever we, who believe in Christ’s redemptive suffering and conquest of death, minister to those in need or work for justice, we are doing Resurrection work. In that sense, she asked, is the Resurrection happening today?

Later, Rebekah – who had understandably described that part of the service as ‘longer than church’ – posed again the question, “Why do we call it ‘Good Friday’ and not ‘Bad Friday’?” I tried to explain how God took the Bad that was done to Jesus and turned it for Good. She found that hard to grasp.

In the back of my mind I was thinking of Tim Keller‘s The Reason For God, and his chapter on the Cross. He explains how forgiveness and love inevitably involve both substitution and exchange. When we forgive someone, it always comes at a cost. If I forgive you a debt, I take on that debt. He doesn’t get into the question of Pauline language and whether to speak of penal substitution, just that forgiveness must in some sense involve the substituting of the debt, and that this consitutes and exchange. The notion of exchange, he says, is fundamental to love. If I love my children, I will exchange my freedom for their well-being. I will not only give them attention when it is convenient to me, for if I do that they will only grow up physically. Love means I will attend to them when it is inconvenient. I give up my freedom to serve them in love. This, says Keller, is like what Christ does for the world on the Cross.

I shall be interested to plug those thoughts into those from a book that is on its way from Amazon: Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision by Tom Wright. I’d like to see how this compares and contrasts with Wright’s more cosmic vision of salvation. The Reformation tradition has tended to take Luther’s question of “How can I find a gracious God?” and insert the word ‘personally’ after ‘I’. That is critical, but I know that in this book, Wright is saying that such a question makes the sun orbit around us rather than vice-versa. We’ll see …

Blogs On The London Bombings (2)

I forgot an excellent post from Christianity Today, which takes an ‘Iraq plus’ interpretation. Here is an extract:

But two other factors were probably in play. Al Qaeda undoubtedly borrowed its strategy from the Madrid train bombing. There was another symmetry. Just as President Bush was absent from the U.S. capital during 9/11, so Blair was absent from the U.K. capital during (what may now be called) 7/7. Moreover, happening at the same time as the G8 summit, with Bush, Blair, and Putin present, it humiliated world leaders. The message being that they were trying to solve the world’s problems, and they can’t even solve this one. Moreover, Blair’s argument for invading and staying in Iraq-to give us security from terrorists-will look hollow as the dust settles.

Blogs On The London Bombings

Lawrence Moore has a perceptive piece: Let’s Stop Pretending Suicide Bombers Are Cowards.

Maggi Dawn has this prayer from Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford.

Then there’s this from Tall Skinny Kiwi. I wish I shared his confidence that it was because this nation was doing the will of God. Although in some sense we are, regarding international debt. But was it really a spiritual attack in the light of the G8?

Others can only talk about people who were miraculously protected. Jonny Baker is one who was at home when he should have been in central London. Well, yes, but I’ve heard of at least one known Christian who was killed.

Are we getting over-spiritual and forgetting the timing of the day after the Olympics and the thought that the Games could be disrupted? Is it not more likely due to reasons our nation is already hated, viz a viz Iraq, etc.? Maybe we’ve over-spiritualised the atrocity.