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different remember

Nostalgia

Photo of Porth Padrig graveyard taken by Diane Woodrow of Barefoot At The Kitchen Table
churchyard at Porth Padrig, Anglesey taken by myself Jan 2022

Living in a county crammed with history it is easy to get nostalgic for a past era. In fact my daughter and I were messaging last night and were saying that we missed lockdowns, though at the time when I look at my diary entries no one enjoyed them at all. But we can look back and miss those quiet times with nothing to do – even though we were chomping at the bit to get and do things.

In 2018 I did some work with a local high school based around WWI and was amazed how we sanitised it and looked at it as a time when people banded together to help each, of heroism, of being united. We are distanced from the death and horror by 100 years.

I wonder with all that is going on, and has been going on over the last few years – Brexit, pandemic and now the Russia/Ukrainian war – how history will view it. One cannot even guess because we are living through it.

But even things that we lived through, like lockdowns, we look back on in a different light.

So I think this means we need to be careful as we apply comparisons from history to what is happening across the world – whether Ukraine, pandemics, Yemen, etc. It is said that people don’t learn from history but I think that is because each time something happens the world is different and so history can show something but not enough or too much to help stop wars, stop abuse, stop things from happening, or make things happen.

As Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 B.C., is alleged to have said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” which means that the conflicts, issues, problems, projects, that are going on at the moment are not the “same river” so we must not expect it to be. And also we are looking at things with through a nostalgic lens – whether rose-tinted or not.

So let us be careful as we make comparisons from history – yes history can lead to a conflict but there is much more going on in this present day. Perhaps we need to just focus on the here and now.

Just focus on the moment.

Categories
crucified get real good friday horrendous Jesus remember where would you be?

Good Friday!

Etching of crowded crucifixion scene by Nicolaes de Bruyn 17th C
17th Century etching of The Crucifixion (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; John 19:25-27) by Nicolaes de Bruyn

I often wonder why we now associate Easter with eggs and rabbits in church as much as outside of church. I think it is because to accept the reality of what happened to Jesus on the cross is too horrific to bear. It is also easy to gloss over it because the gospel writers didn’t do a description of it, but that was because they didn’t need to go into descriptions of what it was like because their readership knew. Crucifixion was not something that only happened on Good Friday to Jesus and the two unnamed robbers either side of him. It was something that the readership of all the gospels would have seen on a regular basis. It was the Roman’s way of punishing and letting the local populace know what would happen to them if they disobeyed the might of the “Pax Romanus”. For those who fell foul of Roman it was a brutal. Again something that is often not explored.

But Jesus knew the horror of what he was walking towards. He talks of “carrying your cross” which again has become a nice sanitised sermon about setting out on a journey to “give up self”. I think when Jesus said about carrying your cross, him and his disciples had just walked past a row of dying people hung on crosses. Jesus was saying “are you willing to die a humiliating death for what is right and true?” It is the same as turning the other cheek. To carry one’s own cross does not mean that we defend ourselves, or even willing submit to giving up “ego” but that we let someone else have their way even if it is the wrong way to realise the greater good, or as Aslan said in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” so we can “release the deeper magic.”

We need to remember that Jesus wasn’t all nicely wrapped up in loin cloth hanging serenely from the cross for all to see. He was beaten, crushed, naked and possibly with an erection because apparently when a man is in horrendous pain or when the body is wrenched as it would be on the cross the penis goes erect, which is a place of total humiliation. This is why the Romans did this. Not only did it kill slowly but was humiliating. It was not a nice death and Jesus opted in for this kind of death.

My husband shared a story – and I can’t find a link for it – about a church that makes a Jesus on the cross out of bread. From what I can remember of it they did a naked Jesus and when someone played the soldier who speared Jesus side he accidentally knocked off the bread penis. But that got me thinking about how high Jesus would have been from the ground for a grown man to be able to push is spear into Jesus’ side. I am thinking these crucified people would probably have been hanging just off the ground with their feet almost touching. I wonder if it is worse to be almost touching the ground rather than up high like Jesus is portrayed in many church renditions. I don’t think he was high up and able to see across everyone. Possibly when he spoke to his mother and to John he was only head and shoulders above them.

I’ve also wondered the bits in the Bible during the crucifixion where it says people didn’t understand what he said. Ok some of it was because he was slowly losing the power to breath as his lungs were stretched – another thing that we don’t talk about it in church. But also the site of the crucifixion was really busy with people. There would be those who were quietly weeping aas they watched their family members die hoping ot to be open grief probably did not happen because of fear of reprisals from the Romans. But there would also be the crowd who were there to jeer and catcall to make themselves look good in front of the Roman authorities. They would be wanting to heard saying how pleased they were that these people were being crucified. They were fitting in and covering their backs, denying association with those hanging there. Remember that when Jesus was crucified it was not a sombre religious occasion but something people were fearful of, were glad it was happening to someone else. It was humiliating! Horrendous!

Yes church talks of Jesus rejected and alone but do we really know how rejected and alone. And also how quickly we would probably be to fit in with the crowd rather than stand out say he was our friend and maybe be in the next lot to be crucified?

Crucifixion was crap, horrendous, brutal. I often wonder if that was why the early established church shortened the time from crucifixion to resurrection? So one doesn’t have to dwell on it for too long. Jesus says he’ll be in the belly of the earth three days [about 72 hours] and yet the church shortened it to two nights, about 36-40 hours in total. Half the time. Are we all too willing to brush over the horrors not just of what Jesus went through but of the horrors that goes on in our world now?

Perhaps today should be called “Horrendous Friday” not Good Friday. Though of course it is good Friday because we know what happens next so again maybe that’s why we gloss over the bad bits?