Good Friday 2020

April 10, 2020

          And so, it is Good Friday. And it’s an awful Friday.  It’s day of paradox, of tension, of contradiction. It’s a day of darkness and light.  It is a day filled with vulnerability and truth.

And this Good Friday is one in which the world, collectively, is experiencing vulnerability.  We are uncertain, we feel as if the ground is shifting underneath us, we are afraid, we are perhaps disheartened, wondering what’s next, when will this be over. Why?

Yes, it is Good Friday in every sense of the experience. We call the crucifixion of Jesus the passion, and so it is, for us as well as him. On Good Friday, we find ourselves standing at the foot of the cross. Beholding the cross. And through Jesus, we are ultimately faced with choosing between the tale of two kingdoms.  God’s kingdom or the world’s kingdom.  Which do we choose?

You may know that I am a fan of Dr. Brene Brown, who I’ve quoted many times before. She is a research professor at the University of Houston, and has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of many best-sellers. She also has a podcast and interviewed, this past Tuesday, Alicia Keys, a well know singer/songwriter who just released a book entitled More Myself: A Journey.  Brene describes the book as a “master class in courage and vulnerability”.  It is Alicia’s story of her journey to find her truth and once she discovers her truth, how does she find the courage to embrace it.

As we stand at the foot of the cross on this particular Good Friday in the middle of a pandemic, we are called to embrace our vulnerability in a way that none of us could have imagined. To be vulnerable involves facing our own personal truth.  As Pilate asks Jesus, “what is truth?”

Our own truth involves acknowledging every part of who we are as a human being. The good, the bad and the ugly. The darkness and the light. Finding our truth involves peeling away the armor and the masks, the persona we put on for everyone else’s benefit. This Good Friday, this time of forced quiet and lack of outside activity, is a gift. A gift that offers us the chance to reflect at the foot of the cross.

As Becca Stevens shares:  It may be hard to accept the harsh events of this world that leave us vulnerable and afraid and sometimes we succumb to that fear-filled place inside. But being afraid, is very normal. And like pain, fear can be a hard but valuable teacher on our path to healing. The courage and faith it takes to work past fears offers the rewards of new life, inspiration and hope. I imagine Jesus must have been afraid and we know he was in pain, as he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

We know that the fear instinct is one that can keep us alive, it’s primordial — alerting us when danger is near. But what I’m thinking about are the fears that can stifle us—fears that keep us trapped in a comfort zone that doesn’t expand our wisdom, our ability to love, or our understanding of the world. Those fears live in all of us, and they keep us separated from love. To find God’s healing truth, we must recognize when our fears are actually stumbling blocks. Some say fear is the opposite of love. So, when we are able to step over the stumbling blocks of fear, we are closer to finding love and truth. That lesson, though, falls into the category of ‘easier said than done’, doesn’t it?

As we seek healing, we are called to follow our fear, because past that fear lies all the other aspects of healing that we are seeking—freedom, mercy and even joy. When we bump into fear, we can use it as a signal that this is a good place to stop and take stock. So, the next time you feel fear rising in your throat, as yourself, What am I really afraid of? Am I getting ready to step on a snake, or am I scared to grow deeper into faith and be free? Will this fear stop me from learning something new? Will it close a door that I need to walk through? Will it hurt someone else?  Such moments are climactic. They are moments when we think about our past, our grief, our need to forgive and our daily practices. Good Friday brings us to such a climactic moment. What will we hold onto from this current pandemic experience? What will be our narrative?

A quote for us all during this pandemic, from Alicia Keys new book:

“Nothing but uncertainty is certain. Circumstances come together only to fall apart moments or months later and then in a flash we must rise up and regain our footing. In the rearview mirror I see so clearly what escaped me then. It’s not that the ground underneath me was suddenly shifting, it’s that the ground underneath us is never still. That’s part of the work of my journey, getting comfortable with life’s groundlessness.”

We are all, collectively, experiencing life’s groundlessness.

Jesus’ last words on the cross were “It is finished”. Jesus died on the cross to get rid of the power of sin to condemn us. His death bridged the deep gulf between God and us. “Salvation is finished”, Jesus cried. The restoration of the friendship between God and humanity has been finished. The task for which God’s Son came to earth has been completed. Salvation is complete. Fear not, the angels tell us.

Today is Good Friday. It is a good Friday. We know that Sunday is coming. We know that love is the most powerful force in the world. And God is Love. I pray that we, each one of us, can more fully place our trust in the Lord and embrace our truth at the foot of the cross. Amen.