Please find a link here to our April 2023 magazine. If you want a paper copy, then you’ll have to come to church!
In this edition there are updates from a number of our groups and some reflections about Good Friday and Easter. You’ll also find an article on the new Bishop of Bolton and news about upcoming events, not just in our Benefice but also in our wider Mission Community.
The April 2023 magazine also has this letter from Ian…
Given a choice, would you call Good Friday, ‘Good Friday’? Or would you call it something else? What’s ‘good’ about Jesus being wrongly arrested, falsely tried, unjustly sentenced to death and killed by crucifixion? The cross itself, a sign of suffering, humiliation and disgrace.
In German-speaking countries it is referred to as Stiller Freitag or Karfreitag – ‘Silent Friday’ or ‘Mourning Friday’. In Scandinavia it is called the equivalent of ‘Long Friday’. Meanwhile, in France, Italy and Spain it is ‘Holy Friday’. In Greece, Poland and Hungary it is ‘Great Friday’. In Bulgaria it is ‘Crucified Friday’ and in Serbia ‘Loved Friday’. The Malayali people in India call it ‘Sad Friday’.
In Orthodox Christianity, clergy wear black vestments and instead of stripping the altar on Maundy Thursday the church hangings are changed to black. Which has led to Friday being called ‘Black Friday’.
In English, ‘Good’ is meant in the sense of ‘holy’, in the same way that we sometimes refer to the Bible as the ‘good book’.
So, given a choice, what would you call it? Which fits best with how you see the day? Silent, mourning, long, holy, great, crucified, loved, sad, black – or good? Perhaps it’s all of those things, all at the same time. It can be both unsettling and uplifting to think through the implications of what happened that day.
Justice and love
Stanley Hauerwas, in his book ‘Cross-Shattered Christ’, said that he found writing meditations on the subject hard and difficult – and hoped that those who read them found them hard and difficult too. It can be painful, he wrote, to acknowledge the reality of the Son on the cross.
But Friday was ‘good’ because it marks the reality of God revealing Himself in Jesus and shows the amazing extent of God’s desire to make a way for us to be in relationship with Him. Rowan Williams once wrote that God is going to love and forgive whether you like it or not. Or, as Hauerwas puts it, God’s love was demonstrated because God refused to have us lost.
Friday is both a reminder of God’s justice and a celebration of that love. The Father’s sacrifice of the Son and the Son’s willing sacrifice is God’s justice. And, as Paul says in Romans 5: ‘Christ died for us…and that is God’s own proof of his love towards us’.
Friday wasn’t the last word because we know there is Easter Sunday to come. But Friday had to happen first. Friday was ‘good’ because it means that a relationship with God is available for all people through Jesus.
And that should be Gospel for all of us. Good News on Good Friday. Happy Easter! Ian
- Hauerwas, S. (2005). Cross-shattered Christ. DLT.
- Williams, R. (2017). God with us. SPCK.
Many thanks to Jeff Jacobs on Pixabay.com for the cover picture for our April 2023 magazine.