St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver,  B.C.


April 14th 2017  Good Friday                                                  John Marsh






Behold the cross of Christ – a psychic tear in our collective history…

For millennia, the death of many has been the result of a gradual yet inexorable escalation of systemic savagery.

Under the guise of ‘civilization’, countless numbers have been crushed by the violence of dominance and control. The killing of Jesus reveals the insidious presence of systems and structures that utilize violence to deal with threats and to promote order.

However, the degree to which we isolate, individualize and valorize the death of Jesus is the degree to which we depersonalize and ultimately obscure the ongoing violence of those very same forces which killed Jesus in the first place. Our blindness and indifference to these systemic and structural forces at work in the death of Jesus renders his death meaningless.

Consequently, we tell and retell the story of the blunt trauma of the death of the human one who was at one with those too often ignored, forgotten or victimized by the powers that be.

And yet, there lingers still a question: what else is there about this death that so demands our attention?

Perhaps paradoxically, it is the vibrancy of his life, the transformative compassion of his program.

The cross of Jesus is to be understood because of his life not the reason for it.

The cross of Jesus is salvific not because it pays the price and ransoms us from our sins so much as it reveals the limits of our vision and the immense poverty of our choices.

The cross announces the necessity to end a most disastrous social experience - that of patriarchal/hierarchical control and dominance enforced by social, political, sexual, gender and religious violence.

The cross illumines ‘the crucifixions of history’ possibly suggesting something more…

Somewhat paradoxically, the cross invites an awakening, a transformation of consciousness, a new awareness of our relationship to life, the earth and the cosmos.

The cross of Jesus invites us to live fully unto death.

The cross of Jesus invites us to consider living life differently if we have eyes to see and ears to hear the possibilities of new beginnings and alternative endings.

The cross of Jesus invites a renewed consideration of compassion as lived in Jesus.

The cross of Jesus invites a response to compassion’s call, to see that all of life is interdependent and interrelated…

The cross of Jesus invites a renewed consideration of divinity as lived in Jesus the Christ…

From the perspective of the life of Jesus, god is not all powerful but rather limited by human and non-human agency.

In the passion of Jesus, the holy one does not because god cannot save Jesus; the holy one does not control Pilate, the crowd, the religious leaders or anyone for that matter.

That the divine one is not in control does not undercut salvation but rather shifts its nature: god is with us not as the all-powerful one¹; god suffers with us seeking possibilities of healing within the exigencies of life.

That which we name as god is within life lived amid tragedy and the reality of loss.

god is within the seeking of wholeness without denying or valorizing suffering.              

god is within the seeking of transformation, the transformation of hearts and minds requiring participation within life’s creative possibilities.

Which is to say, we must choose to answer the holy one’s call to walk the path of life; we must cooperate with god if the holy is to work through us.

From the perspective of the inner eye of love, the life and death of Jesus invites us to a rebirth of our lives, a rebirth in which we broaden our vision, resituating our story within the larger cosmic story in which we have always existed.

We are invited to see differently, to see ourselves, the earth and the entire cosmos as alive, interconnected, interdependent, belonging one to another; such is the consciousness we name as god; such is the consciousness we name as humanity reborn and fully alive.

Behold the cross of Christ…


To believe in the cross of Christ does not mean to concern ourselves…with an objective event but rather to make the cross our own.  Rudolf Bultmann





¹ If you think about it, an all-powerful god renders us as little more than puppets and, in reality, despite language used, understands divinity as capricious and unmoved by suffering, only occasionally ‘rewarding’ the few.