Thursday, 24 March 2016

And it was Night

So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:31-35
A strange liturgical day tomorrow. If the Church calendar allowed it - which it doesn't any more - then tomorrow would be both Good Friday and the Feast of the Annunciation.

The Eastern Orthodox church - who seem less binary, more able to cope with two emotions at one time - leave both days where they are. In the morning, if you like, celebrating that God gave Jesus to Mary. Later in the day, remembering that time when Mary received back the broken body that she had brought into the world.

This co-incidence happens very rarely - this is the last time this century. None of us will live to see the next one, dearlings - and so in the Beaker Folk  we are joining with the Orthodox in leaving both feasts together. We like the complex mashups of joy and horror. These are powerful things. It's just a shame we don't have the theological, intellectual or emotional scaffolding to hold them together.

An intimate moment as an announcement is made to Mary - and a terrifying death, sealed away from God - are the book ends to Jesus's earthly life. And the reading from John at the end of the Last Supper has that same thing - an intimate moment as Jesus has shared a meal with his closest friends then given the bread to Judas - and the betrayal as Judas leaves the room straight away. And it was night.

The sacrifice didn't start on the cross. Jesus's sacrifice began from the moment the Living God took a human form, in the body of a young Jewish woman, and made his first journey towards daylight. His passion didn't start with the first nail, or the whipping, or the crown of thorns - it had been there all along in the pain of birth; the rejection of those who had followed him; the disappearance of Judas from that Last Supper, the first communion of the Church. He lived in a broken country - one of a defeated nation - with the oppression of an evil Empire and the terrorist responses of the Zealots and the everyday threat that violence might break out.

And it was night. And Jesus knows that the cross is looming - and then? Well, he seems to know that Resurrection lies just beyond that. And he could just spend a while considering that. But instead he tells his friends what they should be doing. In contrast with the man who just left, clutching his handful of bread and guilt - they should love one another.

It's a time of international stress, when people in the major cities of Europe and in Turkey fear another attack - when in parts of Syria and Iraq every day is a day when nerves are tight as guitar strings. Some will use this to cause hatred between people - the people who bombed Brussels air port and the people who hash-tagged #stopislam are closer to each other than they are to the rest of us. When Daesh/ISIS wish to trigger a war between their form of Islam and the world - and the dim right-wing tries to grant them their wish - I'll bear in mind what Jesus said, just when it was night,

Just as He has loved us - we should love one another.


  1. Errrmmm - except that in the Eastern Orthodox church, they have only just started Lent and Easter isn't until the end of April.

    1. That's fine. I was not talking about the Orthodox this year. I was talking principles.

  2. Have you read
    Posting on same topic? The tradition of the lily cross is so poignant

  3. Have you read
    Posting on same topic? The tradition of the lily cross is so poignant


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl