Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Good Friday Witness, April 15, 2022, Interfaith Good Friday Service- Ann Harrington ARCWP joins Eastern North Carolina's Interfaith Clergy Community Service

This is a photo from our Good Friday Interfaith Prayer sponsored by Eastern North Carolina’s Interfaith Clergy Community.  The theme was the Power of the Cross.  I was invited to give the Invocation (which I sang) and a personal witness.  I have attached them.  Several other pastors led prayers and there was one other personal witness.  The service took place on Greenville’s Town Commons on the site where an African American church once stood.   There was also an African American community in the area that was razed in the 1970’s as part of urban renewal.  There are still wounds from that.  We hope to move into some racial reconciliation around that history. 

 Invocation

Let us begin in the name of Holy Mystery who creates life, in the name of Jesus who loves life and is our Way and in the name of Spirit Sophia who is the Fire of Life. Beloved Brother Jesus, we remember your death on a cross and how you showed us how to love all creation.  We lament how you continue to be crucified; we celebrate how you continue to be resurrected.  We want to be like you, instruments of peace and justice. We make this prayer in all the holy names of God. All: Gospel Amen

Good Friday Witness April 15, 2022

Good afternoon my name is Ann Harrington and I am the founding priest of Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community here in Greenville.  I’d like to thank the Interfaith Clergy community for recognizing my ministry and inviting me to be part of this historic occasion.

My husband and I live 3 blocks from here and raised our 4 sons in the shadow of this beautiful green space.  We have many memories of special, holy times here.  

I was ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in July 2014, presided at my oldest son’s wedding in August of that year and in November of 2015 buried my second son, Michael.  On this most sacred day in our Christian tradition, I feel the solidarity of the women who stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross.  They image the God of faithful, fierce, fearless love that I experienced on the day my son died.

You might wonder why we call this day, good.  The day I lost my son to suicide was not a good day but it was an anointed day.  After a time of uncontrolled sobbing, I immediately felt the power of the cross.  What I had to do next was clear and I was given the strength to do it, friends showed up to help me.  

Suffering is universal.  We each carry crosses. Life has wounded us all.  Accepting that reality somehow opens us to the endless energy of Love.  Leaning into the story of Jesus, the embodiment of God, helps us see that this beautiful, maddening world is filled with contradiction, fully expressed in the figure of a cross.  The cross is the price all of us pay for living in such a world.

Jesus was fully human and fully divine. He confronted the power structures of his day and refused to play their game.  His very life undermined their lies and their love of money and power. He invites us to join him in this pursuit.  St. Paul calls it putting on the Mind of Christ.

Long before my son died, I gave my life to Christ.  One of the reasons I had children in the first place was because I heard a call from God.  Michael was conceived in love and brought up in a loving home.  Why did he die this way?  I eventually, realized that Michael was sick, depression is a disease. I suffered from it myself for most of my life.  Children die every day from diseases and leave families bereft and heartbroken. This suffering has made me more compassionate and tender towards other sufferers.  On my best days, I open my arms and heart in imitation of Jesus on the cross and receive the graces that our loving Mother/Father/Creator God longs to give all of us-gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man, straight or queer, black or white or brown or yellow or red.  

This Lent I have been praying to release my desire to know the woulda, coulda, shoudas of Michael’s life that made him so sick, to the God I believe in, the God of resurrection, the God of endless life and love.  What makes Good Friday good is the revelation of a suffering servant God who is in solidarity with us in the joy and the sorrow, a good God who as the beautiful hymn tells us;

(Sing) Will raise us up on eagle’s wings, bear us on the breath of dawn, make us to shine like the sun and hold us in the palm of Her hand and hold us, hold us in the palm of Her hand.


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