Friday of Holy Week: Standing At The Foot of The Cross

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. 28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is accomplished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Today is Good Friday--the day Christians commemorate the suffering and "passion" of Jesus.  On this day of Holy Week, according to the Gospels, Jesus suffered on the Cross between noon and three o'clock before he "gave up his spirit."   

I have on many occasions stood at the bedside of church members as they breathed their last, and then put my arms around their family members as they grieved.  These are holy moments, imbued with meaning--sacramental in the way they point us beyond the moment to eternity itself. 

For the grieving, their presence at that moment is something to be cherished and remembered.  "I was there when they took their last breath," the might say afterward.  And despite the loss, there is a measure of peace that comes with the memory of presence. 

I felt the same odd sense of loss and peace this past year when I was by my mother's side as she took her last breath.  After I knew she was gone, I felt raw, exhausted and wrung out--feelings that I hadn't allowed myself to feel until that moment.  

But I also felt a sharp sense of relief that her struggle had ended and that she was fully and completely present with the God who had breathed life into her from the beginning.  

On this Good Friday, let us enter into the story here in John's Gospel---past the betrayals, the denial, the accusations, flogging, mocking and cursing...  

Today, let us simply stand with the disciples at the foot of the cross, holding one another and being present in the moment.  If some of us must weep because the losses in our lives are great and weighty, then let us weep with them.  If some of us mourn what was, and will never be, then let us mourn with them. 

But above all, let us be present in this moment, and know that when Jesus breathed the words, "It is accomplished," that they weren't his last words---because it wasn't the end... it was the beginning.  

Sunday's coming.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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