We Live in a 'Good Friday World,' but...
- Friday, April 06, 2007
One of the lowest points in my life occurred years ago when I was living in Washington, D.C., at Easter time. My older sister had recently died and both of my brothers were seriously ill; my best friend was leaving town, and on top of that I was questioning my work. In my journal that April I wrote, "Am I depressed?" When I read those pages now I laugh and shake my head. "Depressed?" That I even had to ask. In that long year I thought I'd never laugh again, just as I thought I'd never again feel love, the joy of easy friendship, or the satisfaction of good work.
I went to church that Easter out of both habit and desperation. I had grown up in a church-going family. It was what we did. And so to honor the family that I was losing I went. Easter after all, is the centerpiece for Christians, honoring and recalling Christ's triumph over death.
I chose a big downtown church for Easter services — one with hundreds in the congregation — not daring to visit a smaller church where I might have to speak to people or be embarrassed by my own tears. I wanted the paradoxical safety and anonymity of being in a crowd.
The minister that Easter Sunday said many things that I don't remember, but one sentence has stayed with me all these years. He said, "We live in a Good Friday world."
That I understood. A Good Friday world is a world full of suffering, questioning, unfairness, trouble, mistakes, hurts, losses and grief. Good Friday in the Christian faith is the day Christians commemorate Christ's suffering and death on the cross. So that certainly made sense to me at that difficult time in my life.
"But," he continued, "We are Easter people." Those words stopped me cold. I was stunned to be reminded that painful morning that there was something other than what I was feeling.
Wow. What an amazing message as we head into the Easter week. We do live in a Good Friday world. How easy it is to stop right there, just short of healing, not realizing the hope of resurrection. The story did not stop on Friday. This week is not just about Good Friday. The hope of this season is all about Sunday. Tony Campolo wrote about a life changing sermon he heard in his book It's Friday but Sunday's Comin'. (Note to spiritual cyber hall monitors... I know Mr.Campolo is a bit controversial. Just enjoy this illustration, take a deep breath, and move away from the keyboard). Campolo writes about hearing a wise African-American pastor preach about the events of Easter week.
For an hour and a half he preached one line over and over again..."It's Friday, but Sunday's comin'!" He started his sermon real softly by saying, "It was Friday; it was Friday and my Jesus was dead on the tree. But that was Friday, and Sunday's comin'!" One of the Deacons yelled, "Preach, brother, Preach!" It was all the encouragement he needed.
He came on louder as he said, "It was Friday and Mary was cryin' her eyes out. The disciples were runnin' in every direction, like sheep without a shepherd, but that was Friday, and Sunday's comin!"
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