I often tell the same story on Good Friday after reading the Passion story from John.
In the early years I was at St. John's in Waterbury, we were a member of the Council of Churches. And every Good Friday there was a service from noon until three which paired the Prayer Book Service with "The Seven Last Words of Christ". So, I would invite 7 Protestant ministers to preach the seven sermons on the last words. It was an awkward service and I was delighted when the Council of Churches became an Inter-Faith group and we could drop the 7 last words part.
We got smaller crowds, but the music was great and there was lots of silence.
The worst service (and they were all bad since controlling preachers is like herding cats only worse)
was when an AME-Zion preacher took much more time than was allotted for the sixth word sermon.
When his 12 minutes was up, he said, "Let us now go back to Bethlehem" and I thought, "that's the wrong direction preacher."
I think he preached for 35 minutes, which meant there was simply no time for the seventh word sermon.
While the preacher droned on, I went over the Manor Tyson, a Southern Baptist Minister, and whispered, "Manor, you have NO time."
He whispered back, "I've got it."
When it was his turn, he read the last word from the Gospel of John, when Jesus says, "it is finished", and died.
Then Manor said, "Jesus said, 'it is finished'. But we know it's not!" and sat down.
The best Good Friday sermon I've ever heard.
I told that story at St. Andrew's tonight.
And I ask you to remember, beloved, Jesus said "it is finished", but we know it isn't.
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