3 April 2015
Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
John 18:1 – 19:42
File this one under the category of “D’oh!” Tonight, I preached a sermon about the high priestly role of the Church in offering the prayers of the people. For Episcopalians, the centerpiece of the Good Friday Liturgy is the Solemn Collects, in which we pray “for people everywhere according to their needs.” John presents Jesus as both priest and victim in both the passover sacrifice and the sacrifice of the Great Day of Atonement (“Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world). Jesus’ empty tomb replaces the inner sanctum of the Temple. The Epistle to the Hebrews presents Jesus in the same way, entering the inner sanctum with his own blood, to take his place at the right hand of God and make intercession for the world.
The Good Friday Liturgy is not so much about simply commemorating Jesus’ death and accepting its merits on our own behalf as it is about entering the inner sanctum through the open curtain of Jesus’ flesh to make intercession for the world.
When we got to the end of the Solemn Collects, it hit me that the concluding collect is the same as the collect used at ordinations. The Church is being ordained on Good Friday into its role as the royal priesthood, the continuation of the Incarnation of Jesus’ role as high priest interceding for the world.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Wanted to go back and add that bit to the sermon.