Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Irony of Holy Week

The irony of Holy Week, for me, is that while I am encouraging our congregations to observe times of reflection on the great saving events of Jesus' Passion, I am sitting here till late at night like a battery hen producing orders of service, sermons, and sending e-mails to my ministry colleagues about who is doing what over Easter. Every year in the run-up to Easter and Christmas I say to myself, "I must be better organised next year." I wonder if other clergy are the same?

But then there is the odd bit of treasure as I prepare the next talk. For example, I was reflecting on the often quoted saying, by an unknown preacher, 'It was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross, but love.' My immediate thought: Yes, Jesus' love for us - for me. But there is another love, which comes out very clearly in John's gospel: the love between Father and the Son. This is such a strong love that Jesus, the Son, willingly submits to his Father's will to go to the cross and stays there until he can say, "It is finished."

It's impossible for us to imagine this in terms of the human love of a father and son, but what is characteristic of this godly love - true love - is that it is always giving. The Father gives his Son to the world; the Son gives his life for us; the Father and Son together give the Holy Spirit; the Spirit gives to us what belongs to the Father and the Son. It's this kind of love that compels me to respond to God's grace.

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