Architectural detail of window arches on Old South Church in Boston

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A Good Friday Reflection

By the Rev. June R. Cooper

Context: For the past seven years I have had the opportunity to join with other clergy and members of South Church to worship with the inmates at MCI Framingham on Good Friday. As some of you might not know MCI Framingham is one of two correctional facilities for women in the Commonwealth.  This year due to the pandemic we will not be able to physical be with the community. However, we can be with them in the spirit of prayer.

As the virus spreads like wildfire through all of our correctional facilities in our country, will you be in prayer with me this day and the days ahead for those who are behind the bars for they are a part of our family and God’s beloved community? They are our sisters and brothers for we are one in Christ.(John 17)

Reflection: In the final moment of his life Jesus is comforted not only by the presence of his mother but also by other members of the “family of faith,” including John, the beloved disciple, and Mary Magdalen. In this critical moment of his impending death, Jesus gathers members of his biological and spiritual family into a new community. As he dies, Jesus exclaims, “Women, behold thy son!” John, the beloved disciple, assumes the role of son to Mary and welcomes her into his household.

Mary Magdalene and others at the cross are drawn together by the community experience of grief and disappointment. The seeds of community were planted that would burst forth into new life at Pentecost.

No one wants to be in prison, and why would anyone with a choice spend Good Friday in prison? But we must remember that the Good Friday story is the story of an indigent prisoner, hastily tried, sentenced to death, executed and buried in a donated tomb.  Many prisons understand the Passion narrative in all its darkness and indignity. They grasp the magnitude of what Jesus sacrificed, taking on himself a punishment he did not deserve. They cling to the promise of forgiveness and a fresh start that the gospel accounts offer.

There is no more powerful or appropriate place to spend Good Friday than behind bars with my sisters at MCI-Framingham. Christ calls each of us into God’s family regardless of our station in life. God’s sacrificial love is the only love that gives us the grace to be united in one community of love and justice.

Keep the faith, and look up! God bless us all.

The Rev. June Cooper

Theologian in the City, Old South Church in Boston & Executive Director, City Mission