"Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." - The Book of Common Prayer (1979), The Episcopal Church.
A radical definition of family for a radical definition of sacrifice.
An atheist friend of mine always attends Good Friday services at his local Episcopal Church, the one time each year he crosses the threshold of a house of worship. Once, I asked him why. "Because the f#$*ing bastards killed Christ." The resurrection he rejects in its literal sense. But, there is for him still the crucifixion, which he recognizes as a distressingly human event, and deeply political, and very significant: the enormity of the betrayal, the abuse of might against right, the exploitation of the mob by cynical figures of authority, the baying for blood, the rejection of meekness, the will to power against a new order offered by an unlooked-for messenger, the process of positive change through sacrifice, the despair that may later be revealed as the tragic beginning of a new dispensation, if not a metaphysical dispensation, then a new way of doing things, a new way of being. First the money-changers' tables were overturned. And now this. This! There is violence in the story, and it is not for the faint of heart.
Photo: St. Mark's Church (Episcopal), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Good Friday, 2013.
Click to view an enlarged version.
Hat-tip to Medievalists.net.