At three o’clock on Friday afternoon, I daresay many are dreaming of the end of the school day or the working week. Here in the monastery there will be a short pause when each of us will stop whatever she is doing, turn to the nearest crucifix and utter a brief, wordless prayer of sorrow for sin, praise and thanksgiving. It is our way of marking the hour of Christ’s death and is ushered in without fuss or fanfare. It is a private act none of you would know about unless I had mentioned it.
I have, in fact, mentioned it once before so why do so again? One reason is that I happened to quote Isaiah 49.16 at the end of our Facebook page prayer intentions today. It is a short step from the tattoos of the Old Testament to the wounds of the nails imprinted in Christ’s flesh for all eternity. A second reason is that I often ask myself whether we are almost too busy living in the joy of the Resurrection, ‘celebrating’ even those events that are tinged with human sadness and must, of necessity, include large elements of uncertainty about how God views things, eg funerals. When I die, I don’t want premature canonisation by my friends (family and community are far too aware of my defects to fall into that trap!), I want prayers for the mercy and forgiveness of God. I want Christ’s redemptive death to have full effect in my life, now and hereafter.
Three o’clock on Friday afternoon is a moment we set aside for explicitly remembering what I trust we never forget: we live by the mercy and goodness of God. There is no shortcut to that, no D.I.Y salvation. The Death and Resurrection of Christ are one saving event. To concentrate too narrowly on one aspect is to diminish our appreciation of the wonders God has worked for us. Perhaps you, too, could spare a moment for God at three this afternoon.