Dear brothers and sisters grace to you and peace this day, especially this day, in the fullness of God’s steadfast love. Amen
Have you thought about how odd it is that we gather here in the last light of day… Sunset is officially 7:29. Most folks are settled in for the night, safely watching bad TV or surfing the internet.
Darkness and death, there is a very smart part of us that tells us to avoid this place at all costs!
I may have said this to you before, but it bears repeating; we have members of the church that simply refuse to come to church on Good Friday much less “celebrate” it.
One such person told me; “There are enough sorrow and pain in the world – I don’t need once ounce more.”
In many ways, I understand her point… And yet I am here, and you are here.
This Lent we followed a series of skits entitled “YOU WERE THERE” Each of the guests of the interview show talked about Jesus from their own unique perspective.
In some ways, when asked “were you there when they…” as the hymn goes… we can all say yes. For we all have dark areas in our lives that strike fear into our hearts and the story of Christ’s passion only seems to highlight those areas and make us feel awful.
The darkness of our relationships, our lives, the darkness of things we have done, things we have left undone and things done to us. Why would anyone in their right mind go to a Good Friday worship service and risk dredging any of that up?
The lady that protested Good Friday’s pain went on to say…”I only want worship that is joyful, positive and upbeat.”
But that is the problem isn’t it. Where is the joy of Easter, the joy of Christmas, without understanding the depths of God’s love and sacrifice for us. I am fairly certain that until we come to the face with the sorrow and darkness of Good Friday you can’t really know the full joy of Easter!
Good Friday, it seems to be such an oxymoron.
Good Friday isn’t good because of the cross, because of the pain and because of the suffering. It is good despite it, because of what God has done with it and through it.
Ultimately it is “good” because of what the cross has come to symbolize.
- In the darkness of misunderstanding, the cross comes to show us the light of God’s love for all people.
- In the darkness of Betrayal, the cross shows us that God is good on his promises, and not even death can darken them.
- In the darkness of Temptation, the cross shows us that the light of Christ goes beyond those temporary feel good feelings the word keeps trying to sell us.
- The darkness of Injustice is overshadowed by the light of the cross when God’s justice prevails even when all seems lost.
- In the darkness of denial, God comes to us anew on the cross to show us that he is with us even when we doubt.
- In the darkness of rejection, the light of the cross shines on a new cornerstone that though once rejected has changed the world bringing God’s love to all people
- Finally the darkness of crucifixion, the gory details of the story and the heart-wrenching effects on believers now as then, In God’s love the Cross once an object of scorn and derision has come to symbolize a new kind of throne. A throne for a servant king a throne for one that comes to remind us that Darkness is not the last word.
When asked were we there, we can say that yes part of who are is what made the cross necessary, but we can also claim with solemn reverence that what Christ did, he did for us. It was done because we are worth the cost.
We are the ones whom God has loved so deeply that there was nothing in all of creation that would keep from being there for us, even as they nailed him to the tree and laid him in a tomb.
But for this hour, as we hear the story unfold before us once again, where do you see yourself? Are you like the centurion able to speak a tentative yet strong world of faith? Are you like the women present in all of the day’s pain and sorrow being simply present to watch and wait? Do you have the means to perform an act of compassion that recognizes in others the suffering of Jesus? Or will the story shake you up and open up what once was dead to possibilities of new life in Christ?
No matter where you find yourself, today we gather, we listen, and we honor the darkness that Jesus so willingly stepped into, and give thanks that we need not say in the dark alone even as our hearts long for the light and joy of the Sunday that is to come.