Friday 21 March 2008

Good Friday

“Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.”

—George Herbert, “The Agonie” (1633).


Anonymous said...

Beautiful start to Holy Weekend. A GH verse a day, please (I can already see Easter's!)

Anonymous said...

That was wonderful! I have been away for awhile - so now have a question in relation something at least alluded to by the poem: It being Good Friday the question arises anew....

Part of the "faith" (not sure if it would be part of the faith Kim would encourage us to toss out) is that Christ can empathize with us in our sufferings. He went through all the sort of pains we go through and so through the mystery of the incarnation is united with us in our trials

What about pure and simple guilt for our "crimes and misdemeanors"?
If He was tempted but did not sin, where is the empathy for being guilty?


Anonymous said...

Hi Ann,

Since you mention me, I hope Ben won't mind me coming in here.

First, I would most certainly not "toss out" the "part of the faith" you mention. The converse of the lapidary Bonhoeffer statement I cite in "Lose Your Faith!" is true too: the God who forsakes us is the God who is with us. The cross teaches us that God's absence/hiddenness is precisely the mode of God's presence (cf. Simone Weil's "The very reason why God has decided to hide himself is that we might have an idea of what he is like").

And as to your questions, I would extrapolate form Luther: just as although Christ did not sin, he was yet peccator pessimus, the chief of sinners, so too although he was guiltless, he knew the intensest guilt, and most assuredly empathises with ours. But this is all a prosaic mumble compared to Herbert again, from two of his "Affliction" poems (though I cannot simulate the verses' proper typography):

Thou art my grief alone,
Thou, Lord, conceal it not: and as Thou art
All my delight, so all my smart:
Thy crosse took up in one,
By way of imprest, all my future mone.


Thy life on earth was grief, and Thou art still
Constant unto it, making it to be
A point of honour now to grieve in me,
And in Thy members suffer ill.
They who lament one crosse,
Thou dying daily, praise Thee to Thy losse.

And how is this for a personal felix culpa, from the last verse of "Easter Wings" (and you really do have to see the entire four-verse poem in print: it forms the shape of two wings):

With Thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day Thy victorie;
For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Lent and Easter without George Herbert is, for me, inconceivable.

Easter blessings,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. I think I’m just thick-as-a-brick here. You know how sometimes certain points that always seemed to make sense just suddenly don't anymore? I think some of those are the ones that we should lose, as you mention in your Palm Sunday homily; maybe others mean losing our faith in a way that doesn’t mean spiritual growth is starting to happen.

Christ being with us, hidden, within, fully empathic, makes sense....still does in the sense of not condemning our sin or weakness, but fully with us at least in the sense of present regardless of what dumb thing we may be doing at the moment.

But I can't make sense at all of Luther's 'just as although Christ did not sin, he was yet peccator pessimus, the chief of sinners, so too although he was guiltless, he knew the intensest guilt’.

This is one of those places where I encounter things ‘just said’ where I also want to start interrogating the statement. Such as 2Cor 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

How did Christ ‘know guilt’. I understand that to be crucified is to become accursed….that is in the eyes of the community….but what I wonder is did Christ go through (speaking of sacrilegious) thoughts of “Oh God, I have been a real failure – I haven’t said enough – I spoke too harshly to that group – I turned away some who were asking for help”. In saying he grew in his time of ministry did he look back at prior years with regret? Did he die feeling appropriately the scapegoat, thinking ‘I could have done anything they all have done…..did he die really believing he was the worst of sinners?” And I’m not talking about neurotic false guilt.

Can our conception of Christ include what ‘becoming perfect’ implies….making mistakes. Or does that so undermine the need for a non-condemnatory response to our own sins that it essentially multiplies all our calculus by zero and we end up with a nothing in which God is not hidden nonetheless?


Bill Williams said...

May God's richest blessings be yours as you reflect on the extent of His love demonstrated through the death His Son on the cross and the awesomeness of His power exhibited through the resurrection.

To God be the glory!

a spiritual oasis

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