Today we will not lie

Good Friday Reflection

Today is Good Friday. 
A lot has happened since last night's dinner with the disciples, with broken bread and washed feet, that ended with a walk to the garden to pray. During the night Judas led the authorities to Jesus.  He was arrested and interrogated, and this morning dawns with Jesus appearing before the governor, where he is sentenced to death. Around 9 am he is hung on the cross, and the whole sky turns dark from noon to 3 pm, when Jesus breathes his last and dies.

When I was a kid, my mom would fast on Good Friday from noon to three, as her own spiritual discipline.  I didn't realize she did this until I was older, and it made those hours set apart, holy, somehow, with a sense of awareness and sadness hanging over them.  
But we did not go to a Good Friday service at church, and I remember the Easter season mostly jumping from the fanfare and fun of Palm Sunday to the triumph and party feel of Easter, without any kind of dip into the loss or horror of Good Friday.  In my experience, Jesus would have leaped from donkey's back to the empty tomb - only appearing on the cross briefly in the hymns we sang, if it were not for my mom's silent vigil.

How much of our time, these days, do we spend cheering ourselves up? How do we push away the bad feelings, shy away from the difficult conversations, let our fear of vulnerability, sickness and pain keep us from being fully present with each other? Or fully awake in our own lives?

We live close to death. 
Loss, pain, horror, they are right in front of us, or just around the next corner. 
We see, share in, and contribute to, the suffering of this world. 
But we pretend we don't. 
We act like things are ok when they are not.  
We blame other people, we rally to anger or finger-pointing, and then numb ourselves until the next tragedy strikes. 
We race, unthinking, through our days, until one bleeds into the next, punctuated only by fun events and pleasant distractions.  
Maybe we're afraid that if we let ourselves feel the grief we might be overcome and never recover.

Agony is embarrassing. We really are more comfortable skipping from Palm Sunday to Easter. We want our religion to reassure us.

But that is not how the story of God-with-us goes.
Thank God! 
Because that is not how the story of life goes.
And there is no resurrection
without death.

Today is Good Friday.  Today is about the death.
So today we will not lie.

I have felt heaviness and sorrow lately, at the state of the church, the world, our nation, our relationships with each other as people.
I want stories of hope and love, yes.  But right now I find myself longing for Good Friday. Today is a balm to me:
Grief is welcome here.
Sorrow is given space today.
This is agony's brave domain.

Jesus has gone there with us.
We can go there with him.

What invitations call to you this Good Friday?
Where might you tell the truth about death- in your life, in your relationships, in the world - as you await what God will do next?

What might be your holy practice today?
Holy honesty?  Holy silence?
repentance? Holy sorrow?
Holy tending to your losses and disappointments?

If not you, is there someone living closer to death than you are at the moment, that you might draw near to? 

Author and artist Jan Richardson reflects on Good Friday:

All too quickly the breaking of the bread becomes the breaking of the flesh.
All too soon the cup offered at the table becomes the life poured out at the cross.
After the rending, after the emptying: an impossible stillness, an aching silence, an incomprehensible hollow for which no word will ever be adequate.
And now? How will we meet this silence? What will we do with this ache?

For Good Friday
This day
let all stand still
in silence,
in sorrow.

Sun and moon
be still.

be still.

the waters.

the wind.

Let the ground
gape in stunned

Let it weep
as it receives
what it thinks
it will not
give up.

Let it groan
as it gathers
the One
who was thought
forever stilled.

be still.

and wait.


Join us this evening at 6:30 at LNPC for our Good Friday Tenebrae Service, that tells the story of today - walking with Jesus from the garden to the cross.  Tonight we will be still.

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