Good Friday Sermon by The Rev. Jim Stickney

St. Alban’s Church                                April 15, 2022

Good Friday                                    The Rev. James Stickney


At the beginning of this week called “Holy,” just before the procession with palms,

we prayed that we might “enter with joy upon the contemplation

of those might acts whereby [God has] given us life and immortality.”

On this Friday called “Good,” we’re at the very heart of Holy Week.


We’ve just finished John’s version of the saddest and most tragic story in the world.

We’re about to re-enact an ancient ritual, the Veneration of the Cross.

In this homily, the most I hope to do is negative — not to get in the way

of your contemplation of God’s might acts that we observe and re-enact.


When I was active here as your full-time pastor, we shared most Good Fridays

with our ecumenical brothers and sisters. The Lutherans, Methodists,

Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Presbyterians would share our reflections.

We would rotate around to our various churches, and divide the three hours

into sections of one-half hour each. That way people could come and go,

as their work schedules determined attendance.


For several years we adopted the overall theme of “Personalities around the Cross.”

Nobody would choose the personality of Jesus, of course — too profound.

But the disciple Peter was a very common choice, as was his Mother, Mary.

The villains were also popular — such as Judas and Pilate and Herod.


One year I came across a book of medieval Christian poetry, and discovered

“The Dream of the Cross.” The unknown author recounts how he dreamed

that the actual Cross of Calvary appeared to him and began to speak of Jesus’ death.

I knew that the Cross of Jesus would the “personality” I would choose

to shed some new and different light upon the meaning of Good Friday.


As I recite parts of this poem, I hope you discern its positive tone —

frankly, its heroic portrait of Jesus being eager to embrace his redeeming death

as he confronted the powers of the Roman state and cynical religious leaders.

In this poem, Jesus is not a helpless victim, meek and mild — but our strong Savior.






Then I saw the King            of all mankind

In brace mood hasting            to mount upon me.

Refuse I dare not                nor bow nor break

Though I felt earth’s confines        shudder in fear.

All foes I might fell            yet I stood fast.


Then the young Warrior            God, the All-Wielder

Put off his raiment            steadfast and strong

With lordly mood                in the sight of many

He mounted the Cross            to redeem mankind

When the hero clasped me            I trembled in terror

But I dared not bow me            nor bend to earth


I must needs stand fast!            Upraised as the Cross

I held the High King            the Lord of heaven,

I dared not bow!                With black nails driven

Those sinners pierced me            the prints are clear,

The open wounds.            I dared injure none.

They mocked us both            I was wet with blood

From the hero’s side            when he sent forth his spirit.


Now I give you this bidding            O man beloved

Reveal this vision                to the children of men

And clearly tell                of the Tree of glory

Whereon God suffered            for one man’s sins

And the evil that Adam            once wrought of old.


Death He suffered            but our Savior rose

By virtue of his great might            as a help to men.

He ascended to Heaven.            But hither again

He shall come to the earth            to redeem mankind,

The Lord himself                on the day of doom.


And all shall be fearful            and few should know

What to say to Christ            But none at his coming

Shall need to fear                if he bears in his breast

This best of symbols.            And every soul

From the ways of the earth            through the Cross shall come

To heavenly glory                who would dwell with God.