Compline 10 April
Good Friday Service with Sung Passion
Preacher: Revd Dr Donald MacEwan
Reading: John 18.1–19.42
Five Senses: Faith Comes by Hearing
There are so many voices in the pandemic. Newsreaders, governments, experts. Nurses, patients, workers. Pundits, celebs, friends. It’s exhausting hearing so much news, so much bad news, so much unvarying news.
Our daily lives are a cacophony in other ways. Lectures and tutorials by Panopto and Microsoft Teams, hearing voices from across the world from our laptop, through our headsets. Even worship, with the beautiful voices of our choir singing in their homes and heard in ours. All day long we are hearing, filtering, trying to make sense.
In this clamour, how do we hear a different voice, the sound of faith, the call of Jesus, the voice of God? Maybe this voice is drowned out by more important speech at a time like this. Last week I was involved in a meeting using Microsoft Teams and after 10 minutes, four people appeared in our meeting having been in their own group of four wondering where we were. We had been in parallel universes, unable to hear each other. Is that what God’s like this Holy Week, in a parallel universe, irrelevant to our needy, fearful, crisis-hit world?
And yet, all this week I have been increasingly sensing a voice which I hope is God’s. Amid all the alarums and excursions of this time, I feel we can sense an authentic tone coming through. It’s the voice, I believe, of Jesus in his closing days and hours before his death.
To Pilate, Jesus said, ‘all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.’ Who does this voice belong to?
This week, those who have been part of these evening services of Compline have learned who the voice belongs to.
The one we see in glory, a glory of self-denial, of humiliation and death.
The one we taste in bread and wine, whose presence is freely offered to us even when we are scattered in our own homes.
The one who makes with his friends a touching place.
The one who invites us to pour the most precious aromatic perfume over him.
And the one whose voice is authentic, who speaks truth, and love and reconciliation.
What did we hear James Rowland of St Salvator’s Chapel Choir sing, as Jesus, on the cross? Four things:
‘I am thirsty.’ The vulnerability of a dying man. The humanity of Christ. The embodiment of God.
To Mary: Woman, this is your son.
And to the beloved disciple: This is your mother.
The care of each other; the forming of community; the beginning of the church.
And finally, ‘It is accomplished.’
The glory of God found and revealed in shame and loss. The embrace of hostile humanity. The generous gift of forgiveness. The rescue of the world.
Years ago I bought a new Bible, on the then modern technology of cassette tape. It was called Faith Comes by Hearing. And it does. Vast amounts of stuff are entering our heads through our ears all the time. At this time of course it is about Covid-19, rightly so. But God invites us to listen in the midst of the noise to another sound, a song perhaps. The sound of his love, truth and reconciliation found in the words of Jesus from the cross. A song we are called to sing, and bring hope to the world. Faith comes by hearing. This Good Friday, Lord, help us hear you. In noise, in harmony, in cacophony and in silence, help us hear you.