“It’s shaping up to be a pretty Good Friday!”
NO! NO! NO!
Look, I know our local weather person was just doing his job. Weather-wise it will probably be what you could call pretty. It just feels offensive to say “Pretty Good Friday.” Whether the sun shines or not it is a stormy day.
I don’t know what is in me this year, but Good Friday feels especially Not Good. It is not because of the churches I serve. I watched them pull together and put on a beautiful Last Supper service last night that reached the marginalized in significant ways. The other thing they did was crack my shield. I shared with a couple of them that these things that we do in the church every year – Christmas, Maundy Thursday (so named for the mandates Jesus gave to his disciples that night to love, serve, and remember), Good Friday, even Easter – struggle to penetrate me sometimes. I do not think I am the only pastor who fights this reality. I know I spend so much time and energy trying to do my part to make sure everyone else connects with God that I often wear myself down to the point where I have no energy to connect myself. Either that or I am so attentive to every stinking detail that I forget to relax into the moment. But last night, amidst a day of more than 20,000 steps and over 8 miles walked, and such a greater number of moving parts than any other worship service I will do all year, my cast and crew embodied the story and cracked my exterior. I got chills hearing (really hearing) the words of the songs being sung, and was sad to see Jesus arrested, and sadder still to hear that he loved me and didn’t want to leave me.
So maybe I take it back and Good Friday feels Not Good especially because of my churches. Maybe it is all their fault that I am not numb today. And there is too much to be not numb about today.
- Ships are headed to North Korea, and North Korea vows to attack with nuclear weapons at any sign of aggression.
- We dropped the biggest bomb since Nagasaki in Afghanistan.
- The parade of executions in Arkansas is still set to start the day after Easter.
- A pastor killed his estranged and abused wife and another child in another school shooting (particularly hard on this pastor who herself survived a school shooting), then turned the gun on himself.
And now you are telling me that I have to lead another worship service, one in which I have to tell the story of how my Jesus died?! No thank you. Not this week. How am I supposed to make it through that story when I sit here crying just thinking about it?!
My numbness is gone, and it may interfere with my ability to do my job today. But then, I think it should. This should not be an easy day. It should not be a routine task, this execution of the one I love. And in a world bent on death, we should stop and mourn the seriousness of such profound loss.
My usually optimistic self would love to end this blog rushing on to Easter, telling you the reason we persist in calling this Friday Good is because we know the resurrection is around the corner. But that puts a bandage on the wound too soon, especially this year. Some things should be felt. Some things should be lamented. It should not be cleaned up too soon, lest we become too accustomed to just moving on to the next injury without taking the time to ask how we got the wound in the first place. How did we get here? I know the disciples must have thought that 2000 years ago. We should stop and think that now.
And so instead I will tell you that Good Friday is called good because it relates to the Old English word for Holy. This is Holy Friday. For me, it is Holy because there is no darkness that this world can concoct that Jesus is too afraid to enter. Jesus is already there, long before we are, going through it with us and for us. He is Holy, and we are not alone. And that makes me weep all the more.
Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. - Psalm 23:4, King James translation