When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
He is dead and gone, as are all the hopes and dreams of his followers. All is despair as we gaze upon Holbein’s image of the broken, emaciated body as Joseph of Arimathea did.
He is dead and gone and his dying words “It is finished!” ring heartbreakingly in our ears.
It is the point in any Stations of the Cross when, even though we are children of 2,000 years or so of knowing the three-days-later-turn-around, that I find myself utterly drained and, yes, sharing a portion of that feeling of despair that the first disciples felt.
When in 2016 Churches Together in Bridport & District commissioned a full set of 3’ by 3’ paintings of the traditional Stations by local artists, Good Friday afternoon was spent in glorious sunshine by over 150 folk across the denominations walking from station to station, from Bridport to West Bay, immersing ourselves in Road to the Cross.
Each image is different in style but reflects the local landscape and brings home the message that the journey and death are not some distant event but one, rather, ringing with relevance for us now. Thus the image of Christ being taken to the tomb, carried by Joseph with the East Cliff of West Bay (aka ‘Broadchurch’) in the background, left us all knowing that this death, this suffering, this apparently absolute and forever death is for us all, here, now and always.
Lord God, who was prepared to offer everything; teach us to resist the temptation to jump too readily to Resurrection Glory. Let this Station teach us to hold back and grapple with the huge price paid; the depth of misery; the solidarity with human suffering everywhere; and the knowledge that you know what it is like to cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And offer us Third Day Hope in the depths of our pain. Amen
The Rev’d Peter Clark is the URC Minister in the Bridport & Dorchester Joint Pastorate (Methodist /URC)