Our business this week is to die and rise with Christ, who died and rose for us: dying to sin, that we may rise again to righteousness, in repentance, faith, and good works. Throughout the week we exercise Faith, by hearing the account of his Passion written in all four gospels, and we imitate his sacrificial Charity, by acts of offering and intercession. On Good Friday follows the ceremony known as the Veneration of the Cross. A cross is unveiled before the congregation: “before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” (Galatians 3:1), and we approach the altar to kneel at its foot. In that act of worship, we acknowledge our sin, our betrayal of the Lord’s charity, as the choir sings the Reproaches of Christ: “O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me”. The choir expresses our Repentance with the Trisagion: “Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us”. Yet “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20), and penitence turns to praise of what his perfect love and obedience has accomplished for us on the cross: “We adore thy cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify thy holy resurrection; for, lo, by the cross, joy hath come to the whole world”. With this praise is mingled the prayer for blessing in Psalm 67. Thus do we bear testimony to the wonderful exchange transacted for us upon the cross: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us – for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree – that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13, 14). He took upon himself the curse of our sin, that he might give us the blessing of his righteousness.
–(The Rev.) Gavin Dunbar is rector Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia