O Sacred head surrounded by crown of piercing thorn;… …What agony of dying, what love to sinners free! My Lord, all grace supplying, O turn your face on me! Your sinless soul’s oppression was all for sinners gain; Mine, mine was the transgression, but yours the deadly pain: ….. What language shall I borrow to thank you, dearest friend, For this your dying sorrow, your mercy without end? Lord, make me yours forever: your servant let me be, And may I never, never betray your love for me. The famous hymn O Sacred Head Surrounded … is sung as the culmination of our gospel today. An emotional reminder of the events that unfolded in the life of Christ millennia ago…yet are still so poignant to us today. This week we are privileged to walk alongside of Christ, through narrative and ritual, as he lives out his last mortal days. Arguably Holy Week is the most important week in history and we, as Christians, re live his story each year as we follow Christ through scripture and liturgy. Today we read the Narrative of Christ’s death, his passion and death on the Cross. It is a jarring reminder of the cost of Grace. We, as Anglicans, tend to focus on the empty cross. On Christ’s love, his grace and his resurrection, the benefits we have received from Christ’s incarnation. However, I think at times we forget the cost. We remember “that God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, to the end that all who believe would not perish but have eternal life.” We forget or even gloss over what it meant that “God gave his only son”. We forget what the son was given over to. Christ submitted to human mercy, which was cruel and unforgiving…in order that we, those who handed out such cruelty, could receive God’s mercy. Your sinless soul’s oppression was all for sinners gain; Mine, mine was the transgression, but yours the deadly pain: All this agony was given, freely, for our transgressions. For the love and the salvation of, the ones who caused Christ’s pain in the first place and not only Christ’s pain…but the brokenness of humanity that has been since the very first person chose sin over relationship. It’s a long story, the story of human salvation. It is a story that we will remember in the Easter Vigil tomorrow night, as we listen to scripture from Genesis and the first sin…through to the life of Christ, the man without sin. That story of humanities journey into brokenness is echo’d in the events of Holy Week, as we hear ourselves in the words of the crowds shouting adoration on Palm Sunday, to the blood lust of those crowds turned mob, yelling crucify him! This is our story, and today the ironically named Good Friday we see ourselves at our worst. We see the result of fear, of self interest and of scapegoat-ism. We see what happens to us when fear takes hold, and it is horrifying and heart breaking. It is us in the crowds this day, it is us yelling crucify or us standing by silent and fearful. Every time we personally turn our backs on God, blame God for human brokenness or refuse to take responsibility for our own sins. Each time…we are the ones crucifying Christ…. and the ones for whom Christ was crucified. Your sinless soul’s oppression was all for sinners gain; Mine, mine was the transgression, but yours the deadly pain: I bow my head, my saviour, for I deserve your place; O grant to me your favour, heal me by your grace. We don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners, sinners are bad people who do bad things. However, Christ death this day was for all our sins…all the ways we turn away from God, all the ways we embrace brokenness, all the times we serve self first. It isn’t popular to talk about sin, it’s considered old fashion and judgemental…but sinning itself is just as prevalent as ever. We are all sinners, we all, chose more frequently than we care to admit our own desires rather that those that God would have us chose. We have all but our own needs, wants, interests ahead of neighbour and stranger. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; So, it is imperative, that each year we remind ourselves of this dark side of humanity, of ourselves. What humanity is capable of and exactly what Christ endured at our hands…the path he travelled. Not skipping ahead to the Resurection, but walking with Christ as Christ walked with us. We Remember on Palm Sunday that we greeted Christ with palms and hosannas. Seeing in him everything that we want in a saviour. We gathered with Christ and the disciples on Maundy Thursday to break bread and hear Christ give his new commandment to Love one another…and see that command enacted in loving service in the washing of hands. We pass from the meal, from that first Eucharist, into the garden of gethsemane to watch and pray…to see Christ stripped of his confidence, just as he knows he will be stripped of dignity and life…Christ prays…pleads…weeps and gives his trust to God. And we do the same laying our prayers and burdens at the cross…in front of an altar striped of all garments. Then, today, on Good Friday…a day which can only be called Good in retrospect. We recall Christ’s crucifixion.. O Sacred head surrounded by crown of piercing thorn; O royal head so wounded, reviled and put to scorn. Deaths shadows rise before you, the glow of life decays Your youthfulness and vigour spent, your strength is gone, And in your tortured figure I see death drawing on: What agony of dying, what love to sinners free! And then in fear…with the disciples. In grief … like the women. We await in Vigil the coming of the dawn…when we can visit the tomb and see for ourselves the miracle that we all anticipate. The day that we all look forward to, the highlight of the Christian year…Easter!, Resurrection! But not yet…and never can we have Resurrection without Crucifixion. Never should we accept the miraculous grace given without acknowledging the part we played in its necessity. This week is not simply … a bunch more services that you are supposed to go to in the midst of a hurried life. This is the one week a year when we walk with Christ …and witness to, play our part in, all that Christ chose…willingly …to suffer because of us. Frustration. Betrayal. Indignities. Pain. Torture. Darkness. And resurrected life. All for love of us. This week we take the time to acknowledge what Christ went through and we give thanks, offering up…not our lives…but our time, in service and appreciation, of the one who gave all. Through love, for grace. What language shall I borrow to thank you, dearest friend, For this your dying sorrow, your mercy without end? Lord, make me yours forever: your servant let me be, And may I never, never betray your love for me.