(my script for Good Friday 2014's Darkness Til Dawn on BBC Radio Ulster... photo by Neil Craigan)
play U2 - GRACE
She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
Grace, the name for a girl and a thought that changed the world
Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
The theology of Bono. I used to use the rock star as a gimmick to catch the attention of youth. Now the youth are not so interested and anyway I have moved on. Now I quote him as a theologian. Bono has an idea he calls Interruptions of grace. I love the poetic phrase as it opens up the greatest, most revolutionary and central word in Christian theology. Bono believes that grace interrupts Karma. He says… “along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that, “as you sow, so will you reap” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is every good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff…I’d be in big trouble if Karma was finally going to be my judge.It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity."
So here on Good Friday morning we are feeling an interruption. At midday that first Good Friday the sky went black and the earth shuddered. An interruption in the Temple as the curtain between humans and God in the Holy of Holies was ripped apart. Grace interrupted. The apostle Paul describes it, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
play U2 - I STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR
Bono believes though that that the grace interruption of Christ’s Good Friday cross transforms us into becoming grace interrupters. One time when Desmond Tutu asked U2 to sing a song to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, they had no stadium amplification in the room, so they sang Amazing Grace. Bono says… “But This is a story of Grace in action. Grace interrupting karma again, that what Truth and Reconciliation is about.” The Lord’s Prayer known to us all describes this grace interruption as God’s Kingdom Come and his will on earth as it is in heaven.
For that to happen God had to interrupt history with the grace of Jesus birth, the grace of Jesus death and not to get to far ahead of ourselves Jesus’ resurrection. It is Friday… but after a Saturday when hope lay in a tomb seemingly dead… Sunday saw an interruption as the stone got rolled away. Living in the slipstream of this interruption, St. Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Today, here in Northern Ireland, 16 years after our interruption of grace in the Good Friday agreement, we will celebrate, on both sides of our deep and hurting divide, the Grace interruption of Christ’s cross… and, on Sunday, Christ’s interruption of resurrection. Please God may we be interrupted in a way that fuels us all to show that same sacrificial grace that God showed us… to one another.
The shackles are undone, the bullets quit the gun
The heat thats in the sun will keep us when theres none
The rule has been disproved, the stone it has been moved
The grave is now a groove, all debts are removed
Oh cant you see what love has done?
Oh cant you see what love has done?
Oh can’t you see what love has done?
What its doing to me?
play U2 - WINDOWS IN THE SKY