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Better than to receive? 14 April 2017

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Ponderings.
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Today the Church marks Good Friday, which is a strange turn of phrase to indicate the execution of it’s founder. I always used to think it wholly (or is that ‘holy’?) inappropriate. On the face of it, it’s such bad news. Yet as I grew older, and more importantly, came to faith, there came the realisation that the commemoration of the events of the day (the date itself being a reasoned and reasonable approximation) don’t stand alone. Of itself as a memorial of an event it is true that there is nothing good at all. As I wrote earlier somewhere on social media, the situation (after the Ninth Hour, c. 3pm) is “Cross empty, tomb sealed, dark victorious, for a little while.” The key is in the last words. Now there is no good to be seen at all. Come Easter Sunday, and all things change. In the light we can see the day as a Very Good Friday Indeed, a day in which are laid the seeds for the understanding of how God in Jesus would give him into hands of sinful, fallible, fallen, sometimes downright evil (but usually simply short-sighted and fickle) humanity. Events to give us hope, give renewed, even eternal, life, bringing us to the word for the day: give.

There are a number of sources that purport to give us the words of Jesus, ranging from those that the Church holds as canonical (true, trustworthy and in order) through early Christian documents deemed “uninspired” (that’s not as in dull, but as in failing to become canon and so not ‘making the cut’) on through material of lesser degrees of provenance and often increasing degrees of heresy (such as Gnostic writings) and even surfacing in the Qu’ran. (I used to have a rather good little book summarising all these but somewhere along the way have lost it or given it to someone and never seen it back). But the verse of the Bible (see, got there eventually!) that sprang immediately to mind has the unique status of being a saying attributed to Jesus by Paul as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 20:35) – and having no parallel in any of the four Gospels.

In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, β€œIt is more blessed to give than to receive.”’

Generosity, after the example of the Divine, is a wonderful thing.

However, there’s another use of the word, with a subtly different twist, as in the phrase “Something’s got to give.” Here give has the sense of fail, break or part, leading to British road sign that exhorts the driver to “Give Way”, that is, to give other traffic the right of way.Give Way (I’ve seen it rendered differently in other Anglophile contexts as “Yield”, a word that I suspect is fast approaching archaism except with regard to harvests, whether of agricultural produce, financial investment or explosive power).

What might this form have to say, today, this Good Friday? Perhaps something about Jesus’ mission to give us the way to the Father? Or maybe I’m just looking a little further ahead, in the spirit of naming the day Good Friday, and waiting for the gates of Hell to yield and give way to the kicking they get from the inside as Jesus bursts forth, ‘busts the joint’ and leads the greatest escape, playing the greatest ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card of all time and eternity?

However, after an enjoyable family walk at the local reservoir, which raised some questions which I either tried to answer of said I’d seek answers to, and had to pause to write this before I forget, I’d better give over and get on with that!

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