Today Christians around the world mark the day Jesus died. The same person also known as our Lord, Saviour, Teacher, Rabbi, Son of God, and the many other names hangs on a cross. As with any death of a friend or family member this is a time thick with emotion and tension as we remember the life of Jesus and what he meant to us and God.
Good Friday, like many funerals and emotionally charged times is not an easy service to attend. There must be any number of other things that we would rather be doing on a long weekend. But those of us who do gather, to take the time to mark this day; we know, deep down within us, that this is an important day to attend. To that end God thanks you for coming today; for coming to bear witness to the death of God’s son. While it is not easy, perhaps there is also a sense that God needs our support today in the same way we gather and support family and friends who have lost someone dear to them. It is, after all, the least we can do for a God who has done so much for us.
I am deeply thankful and influenced in this sermon on the writings of Richard Rhor on what he terms our True Self and False Self in his book “Immortal Diamond, the search for our True Self.” Richard captures for us in this book a sense that we all have, of something bigger and better deep within us that every once in a while emerges and makes itself known in our conscious. This would be our True Self, the part of us that is our most authentic self and the self that is most in union with God. I will be talking more about our True Self on Sunday.
But for us to get close to our True Self, we must first be able to identify our False Self. This is the self that is needy and fragile. It is the part of us that is self referential, dissatisfied and always re-inventing itself in some way. This is ultimately the self in us that needs to change and die in order for our True Self to shine.
We can recognize our False Self as our job, the clothes we wear, our money, sexual identity, education and successes. As you can see, our False Self is not necessarily bad, it is rather incomplete or a good first starter kit as Richard Rhor would say. No one or more of these things ever completes us, or is our total self. There is more to us than our education and the clothes we wear.
But in order for our True Self to fully emerge within us, we must first go into the tomb with Jesus and allow our False Self to be stripped away and die. Our False Self needs to die in order to make way for our True Self which is within each of us.
For those of you who may have some difficulty in trying to identify your True Self and come to terms with these phrases, the fact that you are here today in church is a realization deep within you that you need to be here. Perhaps you yearn and long for more in life and that you inherently know that there is so much more just beyond our grasp. This is your True Self making itself known to you.
Today is important to accompany God and stand at the foot of the cross with Mary and the disciple whom Jesus loved. Hmm, as I have mentioned on Palm Sunday, it is noteworthy that this disciple is not named at this point. Which disciple is the author referring to? John, Peter, Thomas . . . Jesus certainly loved each of them. I wonder though if perhaps, this disciple could be you or me. We too are disciples of Christ. We too have dropped what we have been doing and followed this person called Jesus and allowed him to influence our lives in deep and profound ways. We too need to be at the foot of the cross with our grief, sorrow, pain and hurt. We too know that there is so much more that we could say or do, if only we had more time. . . We too are loved by Jesus. I do believe, that this disciple whom Jesus loved at the foot of the cross is indeed you and me and everyone else who yearns for more; who longs to have burdens laid down, pain removed and relationships restored. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want more of that. So this is our invitation to enter into the narrative of Jesus’s death and allow God to do what God does best with our burdens.
What do we need to let go and allow to die so that we may be more aware and connected our True Self? In a few moments we will have the opportunity to come and pray at the foot of the cross. I invite you, at that time, to reflect on those aspects of your life that are holding you back, that are incomplete and preventing you from being your most true and authentic self. Take up the invitation today to lay these down at the foot of the cross and allow God to transform them and you so that your True Self begins to develop and become more fully alive in union with God.