Before we begin I would like to ask you to switch off your camera, and to close your eyes.

This is the darkest of all days.
A day turned into never-ending night.
Day light consumed by utter blackness.
Light shone in the darkness
and the darkness has overcome it.

Four women at the foot of the cross.
Mary, wife of Clopas
Jesus’s aunt, his mother’s sister
Mary Magdalene
Mary, the mother of Jesus

We can’t begin to imagine what they must be going through.
But we cannot leave them alone in their distress, can we?
Let us join them.

Do you think we can endure the darkness?

We enter the darkness.
This is Golgotha. The Place of the Skull.
A place of cruelty and hate.
A place of excruciating suffering and grief.
The realm of death victorious.

A hush has fallen over the people gathered around the three crosses.
The fear is palpable.
Somebody is whimpering nearby.
We hear a woman sobbing, but eventually, even that sound fades away.

We huddle together.
We absorb the warmth of each other’s bodies.
We listen to each other’s breathing.
We hold hands.

We cannot see the women, but we know they are there and our hearts reach out to them.

Can we endure the darkness?

Mary, wife of Clopas
We hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel – Clopas and I.
The first time he passed through Emmaus,
he left us thinking, talking, discussing, praying, hoping.
The second time we were ready.
We locked up the house
and joined the motley crew that followed him.

I cannot leave him, even now.
Hope may have died.
Love never does.
But what will we do after this – Clopas and I?
There will be nothing left for us here, in Jerusalem.
We will return to Emmaus, I suppose.
But there is nothing left for us there, either.
Our hope has been shattered.
Our lives are over.

Can we endure the darkness?

Jesus’s aunt
I am the nameless one.
Apart from Mary herself I am the only one here who has been part of it from the start.
I always watched over her when she was little. That’s what big sisters do.
I supported her when she fell pregnant, despite the weird story she spun around it.
It was baffling, though.
The story sounded like the fantasy tales that children sometimes come up with.
But she did not sound like a child.
She seemed completely sound, body, mind and spirit.
I said I supported her through the pregnancy, but to be honest – she was the strong one.
Always, always.

But now –
All her faith, all her hope and all her love she had set on this child, this firstborn son of hers.
Her faith and her hope must have died by now.
But holding her I can feel how she goes on loving and loving him,
reaching out to him with a love made of the hardest rock.
What will happen when he dies, and even her love has been in vain?
She will break.
I have to watch over her.
Because that’s what big sisters do.

Can we endure the darkness?

Mary Magdalene
Your touch drove out the seven demons that were destroying my soul.
Now all the demons of hell have broken loose, assaulting you from every side.

You turned my mourning into dancing.
Now your own feet have been nailed to a cross.

You put a new song in my mouth.
Now you are groaning and crying out in agony.

You gave me a living heart and new eyes; I looked to you and was radiant with joy.
In this blackness I can see nothing, but I know the light in your eyes is fading.

Following you was like walking in the garden of Eden.
Now the tree of life itself is dying and I am driven out into the desert again.

O my light and my life, my love, my all…
My teacher – Rabbouni.

Can we endure the darkness?

I remember the songs, my child.
My own song when you were conceived.
The song of the angels when you were born.
The song of Simeon when we presented you to God.
I have pondered them and always treasured the memory.
They have died on my lips now
and they are dying in my heart.
Where is God’s mercy over those who fear him from generation to generation?
The proud have not been scattered and the powerful not brought down.
This is the day of their glory.
Those who hungered for righteousness you sent away empty, O God.
You did not come to the aid of your servant.
You did not keep your promise.
Is this your salvation, prepared in the presence of all peoples?

Simeon was right.
The sword of despair pierces my soul.
All will think this is because my son is dying.
And that is true.
But when he dies, my God will die with him.
And that is the worst of all.

Still, my child – I love you.

Can we endure the darkness?
Can we endure this darkness?

30 seconds of silence before continuing the service
Scripture meditations