For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Who has not looked in the eyes of a small child and struggled with the question, “Why do we call it Good Friday?”
It is not an easy question to answer for a child or a grown-up. We usually answer with some very heavy theological explanation about Good Friday being part of God’s plan that Jesus should die. Or we explain it by pointing to the good that comes to us at Easter from this Friday death.
Moravians observe Holy Week with daily readings from the gospels in order to participate in the last days of Jesus’ life. In that keeping, I am always struck with the rhythm of the week, from the excitement and raucous celebration of Palm Sunday through each day until the quiet sadness of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and finally the silence of Saturday, the Great Sabbath.
It is the movement that brings us to the glory of the Easter Sunday. We gather to declare with all Christians, “He is risen, He is risen, indeed.” You have to travel through Friday to get to Sunday. I know that as a Christian, as a Moravian, as a human being. That’s the way it works. It is in this spirit that I want to suggest that there are three good things about Good Friday.
Good Friday reminds us of the gift of uncertainty. We say to ourselves, well, if such a terrible thing could happen to God’s son, surely our lives are precarious, too.
It isn’t a gift that we always welcome because we want guarantees. We want control. We get angry when circumstances sneak up on us. But when I sit quietly on a dark Friday afternoon and hear again the precious words from the cross, I try to be grateful for the life that God has given us. We are not toys for God, but people who live in relationship with God. We make choices and such freedom gives us a complex life full of surprises, adventures and yes, uncertainty.
Good Friday reminds us of the gift of imperfection. There in the garden, I see the friends gathered around Jesus, just hours away from their denial. Surely if these so-called friends could fail so miserably, I can expect that my family and friends will disappoint me too. It is human. It is inevitable. But Good Friday soothes my judgment with the gift of imperfection. When I look at those I love, I see the face of imperfection. It comforts me. It is this same face I see when I look in the mirror. On a dark Friday afternoon, as I hear the familiar words of betrayal and death, I try to be grateful for the frailty that makes us all human beings, for second chances and for imperfection.
Good Friday reminds us of the gift of inseparability. In lives slippery with uncertainty and detoured with imperfection, I am stunned with the news that God is with us, ALWAYS. It is not God’s absence that we see there at the cross, it is God’s presence, full of grace and mercy.
So on the darkest day, on that awful afternoon, I can stand it. I can stand to be in that place at the foot of the cross. Once a year, I need to be there, probably more than once a year actually, and while I stand there at the cross, I thank God for the gift of Jesus Christ, for the gift of uncertainty, the gift of imperfection, and for the gift of grace and inseparability.
God of Good, you make our lives of uncertainties and imperfection holy things. Help us to see the good in Good Friday and may every Friday remind us of your gift. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Kay Ward is a bishop of the Moravian Unity and author of three books available from the IBOC: Of Seasons and Sparrows, Waiting for Spring and Heading Home. This essay appears in Heading Home. ©2005 by Kay Ward and the Interprovincial Board of Communication. Used with permission.
From the March 2013 Moravian Magazine