This reflection appeared in the March 2013 issue of Anglican Journal.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”-Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
No passage of scripture affirms my faith in the power of the living God to know my soul more than this passage of abandonment. No one who has not lost a child can know that pain; no one who has not watched a beloved disappear into the fog of Alzheimer’s can know that helplessness; no one who has not felt forsaken by friends, by family, by church and by God can know that emptiness.
It comforts me to know that the God who walks beside us walks with us, even in those most painful moments and deepest torments. It comforts me to know that Jesus knows what it is to be forsaken.
But the story does not end with Jesus forsaken, or with a band of frightened, dispirited followers; it does not end on a cross or in a tomb. Indeed, it does not end with the revelation to John, or with the Church Fathers, or at any other point in church history. The story of Jesus is the story of the kingdom, which Jesus proclaimed and which we are invited to live. In journeying through the forsakenness of Good Friday into the hope of Easter, there is an expectation; there is the call of Jesus for us to join in the kingdom journey.
For many of us, the foundation of our Good Friday devotion and Easter celebration is in the scripture, in the memory and the retelling and re-experiencing-through liturgy, through sacrament, prayer and music. These are, however, an empty devotion and a hollow celebration, unless they are accompanied by the renewal of our passion for the kingdom.
The hope of Easter is the resurrection-not simply remembered as past event or even proclaimed as future hope, but lived as an ongoing journey, as a process of deepening faith and expanding service. It is an ongoing adventure, perhaps calling us, like Peter, “where we do not wish to go.”
We must not imagine that, at some past time, we reached a point where we had reached perfection. We must not spend our energy trying to return to that point, but must always have the courage of the disciple “to follow” and then “to go.” As individuals and as church, we have always been on this journey, and with God’s help we will continue.
May the God who knows the abandonment of Good Friday, through the grace of the resurrection, walk with us into the joy of Easter, as we journey together toward the fullness of the kingdom.
Frederick David Torraville is bishop of the diocese of Central Newfoundland.