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Let Us Die

Good Friday is a day for the church to remember that, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it so well, ‘when Christ bids us ‘come’, he bids us ‘come and die’.  Despite all of our attempts to construe Jesus’ death as a comforting and comfortable way out of pain and suffering, the reality is – to steal a line from my friend and biblical scholar Andrew Rillera – “Jesus does not die instead of us.  Jesus dies ahead of us.”  We who embrace and are embraced by Jesus are invited to follow Jesus on the way of the cross.  Walking the way of the cross with Jesus is where we learn to suffer for a suffering world and so become living signs of Christ’s body broken for the life of the world.  

On Good Friday, we don’t reflect on the cross and say ‘Phew – glad I don’t need to go through that.’  No, on Good Friday, we reflect on the cross and say ‘Wow.  How can follow that crucified Jesus?  How can I take the risky step forward in faith, trusting that Lord?’  The cross is a participatory phenomenon, inviting us to follow Jesus’s path, to die with him, so that we – and the world whose sufferings we share – can rise with him.  

And so, in that spirit, let me offer a Good Friday prayer to help us walk the way of the cross with Jesus.

Let us die. 

In a world that prizes winning, let us die to our need to be right.

In a world in which we define ourselves by our borders, let us die to our need to build fences and instead let ourselves be defined not by our boundaries but by Jesus, our centre.

In a world that can’t image ‘enough’ for everyone, let us die to our need to grasp more for ourselves, and instead open ourselves to the vulnerable way of the Crucified One who opened Himself to strangers.

In a world that works so hard to secure its own future, let us die to our need to control and instead follow our Servant-King who had no place to lay his head.  

In a world of such polarized anger, let us die to our need to know ourselves by knowing (and hating) our enemies, and instead know ourselves by our loves, as those who are loved by the Love that sustains the universe.  

In a world where it is so easy to be numbed by the world’s needs, by our neighbours’ sufferings near and far, let us die to our indifference, and follow the way of the weeping Saviour who let himself be moved to tears by others’ pain.

In these and in all things, let us die to ourselves, so that we may receive our lives back again – risen and renewed – in step with our Crucified and Risen One.  

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


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