Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday...good?




You asked me today what makes Good Friday good.

And I remembered this.

Several years ago, when you were just a baby, I was teaching a class of four and five year olds, preparing them to sit in worship with their parents.  So far things had gone fairly well, the wiggling and giggling posse had learned about worship, had sung a few hymns, had talked about baptism and we were on to communion.  

Then out of nowhere, little Bria Fisher in all her pig-tailed glory scrunched up her nose at me and shot her hand up in the air and said, ardently and honestly, 
"Miss Kara, Why is it a GOOD thing that Jesus died?"
Why indeed, Bria!

The whole class suddenly stopped squirming and listened intently as I bumbled and stumbled, suddenly starkly aware of the utter foolishness of our claim in faith.  Why is it a good thing that Jesus died? (What was I doing talking about death and body and blood with a room full of four year olds??)

It took me a week to have a real answer for Bria.  
The following Sunday I sat down with Bria and her mom and I told Bria that she had really thrown me last week and I was not happy with how I had answered her very good question.  
Why is it a good thing that Jesus died? 

If she would allow me, I said, I would like to give it another try.
And then I asked Bria, Do you know anyone who has lived forever?
No, she answered.
Can you think of anyone who will never die? 
Will your grandpa die?
Yes.
Will your mom someday die?
Yes.
Will you and I die someday?
Yes we will. 
Everyone dies. 
Everyone has to die.
Death is part of being human.
As sad as it is, it’s part of what it means to be alive.
 
But what about God? I asked. 
God doesn’t die! She answered. 
No God doesn’t die! God is forever!  God doesn’t have to die!
But here’s what is so amazing about God: God chose to die. 
God loved us so much that God wanted to be there for us, and with us, because we belong to God.
So God chose to become human with us.  To live life just the same as you and me.  All the good parts and the hard parts, right with us.
And that meant that God also chose to die, just like us. 
But you know what else that means?
What?
It means that now there is nothing, nothing scary, nothing sad, nothing ugly or wrong, that will happen to us in life without God being there, loving us. 
When we are afraid, God is there.
When we are sad, God is there, loving us. 
And what about when we are angry?
And what about when we hurt other people and say mean things?
Does God still love us then?
Yes, always, no matter what.
We belong to God. 
Always and forever, through our whole lives. And one day when we do die, God is with us, loving us, forever and ever. 

This, my beloved, is power. This is the power to face reality and live honestly.  To look at the darkness in the world, and in ourselves, and call it what is.  Because God went there, God is there. To the places of total godforsakeness, that's where Jesus goes.  Life is hard and scary, and filled with pain and sadness.  But we are not alone.

What will separate us from the love of Christ? asks the Apostle Paul. 
Will hardship, or distress, 
or persecution or famine 
or nakedness or perile or sword? 
No, I am convinced that neither death nor life 
nor angels nor demons nor rulers 
nor anything present or things to come 
nor powers nor heights nor depths 
nor anything else in all creation 
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 


So here we will sit, my dear, in the terrible goodness of Good Friday.  
We will sit here together, noticing all the death - and there is so much!- we will notice it, and we will call it what it is, and we will know that God is in it too. 
And we will wait. 
We will wait for the hope of Easter.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Kara, thank you - I have a 4 year old, and have struggled, this year and last year, to work out how to talk with him about Good Friday. He always wants to get right to the core of things (as do most kids!). I found that in church (and also for myself too), we are so familiar with the crucifixion story and images that we fail to recognise how graphic and shocking and disturbing they can be for a child hearing them for the first time - and there are not many resources or people tuned into this. Not only "why" did they kill Jesus, but "why" do we "celebrate" this? And indeed, why are we talking about death and suffering like this with 4 year olds? Yours is the first explanation I feel anywhere close to ok about my ability to offer to my boy. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome, Bronwen! It was amazing how long it took me to get past all the familiarity and adult blasé acceptance of the crucifixion to the honesty and horror behind it, for me to actually reach an answer Bria's question. I will forever be grateful for that experience, because it has strengthened my faith.
    Kids are closer to the truth, and the cross IS graphic and shocking and disturbing! (Making it palatable does us no service). But we've just had another school shooting, and that is graphic and shocking and disturbing too, and the cross means I can talk about how God is in this, and not apart from it, and those families are not alone. Indeed - there is nothing - no matter how horrible - that God doesn't (and hasn't) gone into with us and for us. (And when mine are older, I will talk about how that means to find Jesus we go not only into the joy but also into the messy and horrible places with and for each other). Thanks for sharing your story, Bronwen. Blessings to you and your clever boy.

    ReplyDelete

On Prayer (and the two only ways to Not-Pray)

Psalm 130 & 131 This summer we are trying out different ways to pray.   But it occurs to me, that we might want to take a s...