EASTER OCTAVE, DAY SIX (Good Friday): “Was Ever Grief Like Mine?”

Apr 19, 2019 by

by Stephen Noll, Contending Anglican:

Today’s meditation for Good Friday comes from three poems by the Anglican poet George Herbert (1593-1633): “The Agony,” “The Sacrifice,” and “Love.” These three themes sum up the words and work of our Lord on the Cross that first Good Friday.

I became a Christian 53 years ago. Among those witnessed to me at that time was a college friend, Ken Hovey, who shared with me the love of the English poet George Herbert (1593-1633). Ken devised a dramatic reading of Herbert’s long Good Friday poem, “The Sacrifice.” I have performed this dramatic reading on several occasions in church.

I am going to bracket “The Sacrifice,” with two other  poems by Herbert that bear on the theme of the day. The first is titled “The Agony.” Herbert was highly educated in the Greek and Latin classics and was elected Orator of Cambridge University, a post he gave up in order to enter the parish ministry where he served in the village of Bemerton, outside Salisbury. “The Agony” expresses his evaluation of worldly wisdom in the spirit of St. Paul: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).

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