Religion Magazine

Good Friday Preaching

By Richardl @richardlittleda

From an open air pulpit

Preaching in the open air is a very different experience. The wind snatches your notes away, the traffic drowns out your voice, and passers by occasionally “contribute” to the sermon.  Words must be measured and carefully chosen, sentences must be short, and ideas must be clear.  Not sure whether I achieved all that as I stood flanked by the traffic lights and the cross today – but here is the result.


Good Friday 2014

Good Friday 2014

The writer of Luke’s Gospel takes just NINE WORDS to change the world:“When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 24 v. 46) With those words, all the hope and promise of a hundred healings and miracles ;all the life and color flooding in through the open windows of the parables; all seemed to be snuffed out. With those words the song of the angels – sung so loud on the night the child was born that it all but deafened the shepherds…seemed to be silenced forever.When it comes down to it – what is so GOOD about Good Friday anyway?

I have asked that question many times. My Mum was born on April 19th – which happened to be a Good Friday that year. For many years after that her parents would mark Good Friday as her “unbirthday” whenever it fell on a different day.  Did she have an answer to what was so good about it?  She did not. When people see us on a Good Friday processing up the street, awkwardly pushing past the pavement café tables. When they look down from the bus windows as they are doing right now.  When they look later on and see 2…or 3 …or 6 people all staring at the cross like Anthony Gormley’s installation “another place” -who can blame them for asking “why is it good”?

This time last year was working at my desk just before the Good Friday service. Members of the Teddington business community know that I am a prolific tweeter. This weekend will see my tweet number 34,000. On that Good Friday I was chatting on Twitter to a local mom who had just had a bad night with her children and was feeling a little fuzzy. She was so tired that she wished me “Happy Birthday” by mistake instead of Happy Easter. It might have ended there except that she had a column to write for The Times. Inspiration dawned, the copy was filed, and on Easter Monday the column was published. Let me quote to you from it:

“Many people say the meaning has gone out of our religious festivals. And when you find yourself absent-mindedly wishing a “happy birthday” to the friendly local Baptist minister, this would appear to be true. Shame-faced, I quickly apologised and corrected it to Happy Easter….Easter is our ,most human festival. It shows the best and worst of us” People take time out from work, they buy modest, affordable egg-shaped chocolate products and they might even think for half a second about why Easter exists. They might even go near a church and wish the minister a happy birthday. …The best thing is that Easter is that it does not make you feel like a hypocrite even if you are not the most committed of Christians. Its about starting over and recognising that we all make mistakes. Its about our endless capacity to make ourselves over and try again, even when it seems that all hope is lost”

Yes, yes and yes! Today, I am glad to stand up and be counted as a Christian. Today I am honoured to stand before this cross, and will be glad to take my place in the vigil later. Today I celebrate that this really is GOOD Friday. Why? Because the cross represents our best…or only hope for a second chance…and a second chance…and a second chance again.. On its rough wooden beams  God takes all our selfishness our meanness and our capacity for self-destruction – and he crosses it out.

I am a very messy writer. At school, my handwriting looked as if a spider had had a nasty accident with an ink pot and then skittered across paper. (It still looks like that today). I  used to get so cross with myself for getting things wrong when my writing wouldn’t keep up with my ideas  that would I scribble & scribble & scribble to try & obliterate the mistakes.  That is the point at which my oh so patient teacher would lean over my shoulder and say : “No, Richard – you just need to put a single neat line through your mistake and  start again”. Today really is Good Friday – because that is what God has done for us – crossing out our mistakes and inviting us to start again.

God bless you, today, on this truly Good Friday.


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog