Then the strange paired down morning prayer of Good Friday without the familiar doxologies (that's Glory be to the Father..., if you didn't know).
Then I was at the Good Friday children's workshop suporting our new Children's worker. I was leading a "sounds of the Easter Story" from the BRF with donkey hooves on the coconut shells, a bag of coins, hammer and nails (thoroughly risk-assessed and supervised!) and a marvellous thunder tube. I then also had the responsibility of giving the slightly older children (8-10s) the chance to let of steam which I did with the judicious introduction of a football (youth work is so complicated, sometimes, isn't it!?)
After a swift tidy up of my noise makes (that's the equipment for the story not the children!!) I set off for church.
I was contributing a twenty minute slot to the three hours. Each of us was given "The cross and me" so I decided to share the following:
It was some time in 2005 that an image came to me which I just had to get on paper. I started drawing it and like many adults or even over 7s who are drawing, I was dissatisfied with it as it didn’t look like I wanted it to look. The pencil didn’t do what it needed to. So I tried again and again. Finally, prayerfully, the image was there. In simple black and white: A silhouette of the head of the Christ on the cross, crowned with thorns. Yet there was another crown too, a crown of light bursting forth from the head of Jesus and breaking through the darkness.
Of course, drawing in pencil, the light was created by filling in the dark and leaving the light. It rather touched me that; the light was already there – I filled in the darkness and through the darkness the light showed more clearly. The light was already there. It is we who bring the darkness.
Uniquely the cross is the place where the light meets the darkness and where it overcomes it.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. ... The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God."John 1.1-5 & 9-12
This passage from John sets out John's whole take on the Good News. The light into darkness. The world in which Jesus was crucified was in darkness. They saw the cross as darkness - misery, torture and death. They did not understand. On Good Friday we try to focus on the cross in this way. Yet I find it very dificult. I cannot see the cross of shame without seeing the cross of glory. "The light shines in the darkness and teh darkness cannot overcome it"
So this black and white sketch developed into the picture here.
Note that the darkness is not all bleak and blackness. No there are colours there. Just as sin is not all repulsive and evil - if only it were, we would never sin at all. No in fact sin can be enjoyable and seemingly fulfilling. Yet the light is not all pure stark whiteness either, far from it. The cross here is like a prism which shows the light as it truly is, a rainbow of colours.
Now the interesting thing about painting a picture is that others see in it things I don't. It's one of the hidden joys of art. I'd like you to have a look at the picture now and think what you see when you look at the cross. (we then listened to Godfrey Birtill's fabulous "When I look at the Blood")
What I see when I look at the cross:
not hate but love
not despair but hope
not death but salvation
The light in the darkness is not only restricted to Jesus on the cross. It is up to us too and we doing that by witnessing through our lives.
As St Paul writes
"Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world." (Philippians 2.14-15)
"Love one another. By this shall all knwo that you are my disciples if you love one another"
How is your light going to shine?