Dydd Gwener y Groglith
Dw i wedi cerdded o Conwy i Llangelynnin gyda’r Groes. I have walked from Conwy to Llangelynnin (to the Old Church) with a cross: walking through the town and the beautiful Conwy Valley and up here into the foothills of the Carneddau mountains to this beautiful, ancient place.
It’s very quiet here. It’s very peaceful. But of course, the quiet and the peace reflects a strange change in everything. There are very few people around because so many people, quite rightly, are keeping home all the time or only emerging occasionally in order to try and halt the spread of this terrible, terrible, virus.
I have reflected more than once whether I should have made this journey, even on foot and even avoiding other people. Is it really ‘necessary’? Well I have to confess, in a sense, no. It’s not necessary to go to any particular place to remember the events of Good Friday. God’s love for us, the Good News revealed in the Cross, the cost of his sacrifice can be experienced in our homes and deep within our hearts.
But nevertheless, I did want to come here and to share the pictures from here with those who can’t be here. [So] that you might know that there is a still centre still to this world; that there is a holy place: a place in which God is not forgotten, a place in which prayer can be offered – as I have prayed as I have walked – for you, for this place, for the whole world.
Of course, we remember on Good Friday ‘the place of the skull’: the death place, Golgotha, Calvary, the shameful place, a place of punishment. A place in which – in a typically sadistic, cruel twist – the Romans made people carry the instrument of their own execution. As if someone facing a firing squad had to carry the gun.
And Jesus carried that cross not because he was a criminal, though they crucified criminals either side of him. No, he was God: without sin, without fault. But he chose to take upon himself all of our sin, all of our failings.
How can we possibly comprehend the searing pain, the awful suffering of taking into himself every lie, every hatred, every Genocide, every secret sin, every betrayal that any human being, any nation, any people had ever committed or would ever commit. The poison, the darkness, the evil of our world pouring through his holy veins, tearing him apart for us.
This time, this time we’ll never forget, this time of the COVID-19 virus has parallels with the Cross.
It’s public. No-one, rich or poor, no-one of any nation or race or culture has escaped its awful power. It’s one of the few times in human history when the same thing challenges everybody. And the Cross too was public. There could be no secret Salvation. This moment is not a metaphor or a poem, a nice idea or wishful thinking. It’s a fact, a shatteringly awful fact: a reality of one moment in the history of the universe on which everything else depends.
And of course, the virus is painful. Even as I speak, I’m praying for those who I know are sick at this time and those who have already lost loved ones. And as we hear more of these stories then we feel as if this is encroaching into every part of our lives. There are no glib words that can take away that pain, just as there are no words that can encompass the pain that Jesus faced for us.
But finally, the Cross like the virus, is personal. What we will remember are the personal stories – the courage of carers, the courage of those who in our last moments were able to give us what our families were prevented from doing: love and kindness. The courage of those who were willing to restrain their own liberty, to give up their instincts to put themselves second for the sake of others. The courage of those who saw beyond this time to the things we need to build for the future.
The Cross is personal because it is offered to you and me. Jesus died on the Cross for everyone and for me, for everyone and for you. And on this Good Friday as we seek to find a way forward it can be so helpful if we recognise that the darkness of the world – the suffering, the selfishness, the things in our hearts and in each other that make life so wrong – can be left here. Here at the Cross. Here with the price paid, here with the work done. Here we can say with our Lord Jesus Christ, as he said in his last words,
“It is finished.”