Today is a day that weighs heavy on the church. Each year on Good Friday, we hear the account of Jesus’ gruesome death; Each year we experience those same emotions that accompany Jesus’ death: the anguish and disbelief. We hear the same details – the same bible readings – but each year it seems to fit a little bit differently to the situation we are going through: No doubt, this year, we hear it in the midst of the pandemic. Maybe, even at times, we’ve cried out during the lockdowns, particularly of our church buildings, my God, my God, why have you forsaken us. And therefore, each year it strikes a little differently.
This year the death of our Lord is met with the continuing fears of the pandemic even though we have, according to our media “eradicated” it once again – and even though there is a vaccine rollout, people are still anxious – frightened. Nevertheless, there is good news here, if we have ears to hear.
But sometimes the good news is hidden in the despair in much the same way that the Good of Good Friday is hid beneath the despair of Jesus humiliation, suffering and death.
On the surface there is nothing “GOOD” about Good Friday. It is bleak – it is dark – it is death.
Our church is bare – no flowers – no colourful trimmings of the altar. Even my colourful stole is black.
We don’t gather in celebration around the altar to receive the body and blood of Christ. But Good Friday is a step on the way to Easter Sunday where the Good comes to life – literally. But it’s the bleakness of Good Friday that hides that Good even from Jesus who cried out to his Father wondering why he had abandoned him – who cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane: “take this cup from me”.
But hidden behind Jesus’ death is victory over death as his journey does not end there but begins there. Where on the 3rd day we will gather again – in the same place – but not at a place that is surrounded by death but with new life. Where the women looking for Jesus’ body are asked by the angels – “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
As we too journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday – and I’m not talking about the 3 days but our entire life is lived between the death of Good Friday and the life of Easter Sunday – we can be overcome by the bleakness of life. And even once this pandemic is fully over there will be something to take its place to darken our hopes and dreams. And so we live as Christians not in the bleakness of Good Friday but in the shadow of Easter Sunday – which at present is a shadow because it has not fully arrived for us yet. And that’s what St Paul says in Colossians chapter 3: He says: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
So we continue to live overshadowed by the bleakness of Good Friday but we are drawn by God into the light of Easter Sunday so we do not live in despair but in hope. Hope that the new dawn is coming – as Psalm 30 says: Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. And that shout of joy is the resurrection shout that the grave is empty – that Christ is risen.
Where O death is your victory – thanks be to God because he gives to us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ.