Saint Margaret’s Anglican Episcopal Church Budapest, Hungary Good Friday 2022 April 15 In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen. The sign of the Cross, in which we trace upon ourselves the form of a Cross, is one of the most ancient of all Christian prayers, first attested in the second century, a long time ago. In a sense, it brings together two of the great elements of Christian faith, the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and the Redemption of humankind at Calvary, which we remember this Good Friday. At the Cross, the loving Triune God, in a sense, becomes one with us in suffering and death, yet at the same time turns the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into salvation and life. And so, Good Friday remains for us a day for faith and essentials. For the basics. For questions too of life and death. As our season of Lent began a short six weeks ago with ash and dust, so it now ends in the full meaning of that Cross traced back then upon our brows. The sign of the Cross is still with us, of course, perhaps seldom as acutely felt as during these days of fear, pandemic, war, and upheaval. The world of some seven weeks ago, much less the world of two years ago, is in some sense now a world far away, a world to which we shall never return, a place perhaps difficult now to even remember. As the Cross of two millennia ago changed the world forever, so has this passing Lenten season changed us and our world as well in ways yet too difficult and painful to calculate or contemplate. We live this present moment filled with elements of anxiety and uncertainty. In some ways, our expectations of and faith in how the world works have been shaken, and the foundations of our very societies and cultures have been rooted up. Yet, as followers of Christ we remember that our roots are found in the tree of Calvary; we always live in other words, in the shadow, or perspective, of the tree known as the Cross -- a tree which still stands, which stands now forever. The pain of the Cross is still very much with us today. It is there in refugee shelters dotted across Central Europe, and indeed the globe, places in some sense with no past, an uncomfortable present, and an uncertain future. The pain of the Cross is there in war, greed, corruption, nationalism, and racism. It is there as children and the elderly are neglected; abused and uprooted -- that word again -- from their very lives and history. The Cross is there too in crowded hospital wards, on battlefields, and in homes plagued by fear of aggression and violence.
How can one find life, or even hope, amid such suffering and despair? Or, is it too much to even speak of hope at such times...? Too dangerous, in a sense, to lift our heads above the ramparts and look into the eyes of the other, the would-be enemy. For us as Christians, hope perhaps only really does come in remembering our roots in the Cross of Christ. In remembering that the contradiction of the Cross is itself in essence the paradox of life. And, in remembering that it is only in giving of oneself fully that one finds any meaning to existence at all; indeed, that one finds any existence, period. Sadly, our broken world probably cannot be fixed, despite the best efforts of diplomats and negotiators, despite the best efforts of each of us. It surely cannot be made again what it once was. For, what it once was was in a sense itself also an illusion. The reality of sin remains forever, well, a reality. But grace too has taken root in our world. And this old world of ours, thanks be to God, can yet be healed and renewed. And, we can be a part of that healing. But only through the sign of the Cross, that holy sacrament where human and divine intersect and come together. Where death becomes life. The Cross may seem a strange place to find hope. After all, there is arguably little reason for optimism when one considers the whole estate of Christ’s Church and the world today. But hope does indeed remain. For, hope does not arise from our confidence in ourselves, but from our confidence in a loving God, one who suffers with us in the panoramic history of humankind, to be sure; but also in the very quiet moments and passages of our own lives as well. We know this by faith. It is what makes it possible for us to carry on. Faith makes hope possible. In a sense, it makes hope inevitable. Our Lenten season began short weeks ago in dust and remembrance of things past; in remembrance of our ephemeral and fallen nature and of our need for redemption. In our remembrance of a loving Triune God. Our great Lenten season now ends in hope for better days to come. For Christians, the Cross after all is not the end, but the beginning. The sign of the Cross is the sign of hope. And, through hope, we are sustained for the journey which lies ahead, a journey which will surely take us again through times of pain and sorrow, but a journey which ends, finally, not in death and fear, but in life and grace. In resurrection. And, in love. In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen. The Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs