Friday, April 18, 2014
Lent XXXXV...Good Friday
Good Friday has always seemed like a hard day for the church. What makes it hard is not that the Protestant community of faith takes it so seriously, but that it often seems unsure what to do with it. In many places Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are seen more as Roman Catholic services and are either ignored, or handled in a rather trivial manner. I remember an ecumenical community Good Friday service offered years ago when a local pastor gets up and says, "I know it is Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross, but I am going to preach on resurrection." And, off he went reading the Easter morning lesson and preaching on the empty tomb.
Sometimes it seems we have an unhealthly fear of anything to do with the cross. I say "unhealthy" because it is not spiritually healthy to ignore it. Our secular world which knows so little of the gospel story shows up in mass on Easter Sunday for the watered down version of the message about resurrection power being unleashed in our world without even knowing about the horrible reality of Jesus dying on the cross on Friday. How we can celebrate a death we have not contemplated is a difficult matter to comprehend. There was nothing pretty and clean and nice about what happened to Jesus in those hours before the cross and during the hours He suffered on the cross waiting on death. It is a picture of humanity at its worst. It is a picture which speaks of the deep need of humanity. And, it is a picture which reveals to us the love of God and His deep desire to bring us home to His heart.
Going by the cross is not an optional moment for those who would truly understand why we are gathering on Easter. Without standing, or kneeling, before the cross, Easter Sunday is just about eggs and new clothes. But, when we allow ourselves to be immersed in both the horror and the divine love present on Golgotha, we finally get it, and are finally ready to celebrate the greatest Word in all of history. Christ who died on Friday has been raised from the dead and because He lives, we, too, shall live!