Good Friday is always a strange day. What on earth is so “good” about it, you may ask? For Christians, the good news ironically starts here – that Christ died for us, rose for us, prays for us, reigns in power for us. So however dark this day is, we remember the good news was born today, in the midst of the darkness.
It was just a couple months ago, I came back from Israel, having walked the Via Dolorosa, and put my hand onto the hill of Golgotha. This year’s Holy Week is all the more vivid and real.
The darkness of this hour began last night, with our own human failure. Directly after the giving of the New Commandment to us, “to love one another as I have loved you,” as we heard last night before we broke bread, Jesus foretold of the denial of Peter.
In some ways we have all denied and abandoned our God. The story of Peter is the story of ourselves.
Jesus, after explaining that, “Where I am going, you cannot come,” Simon Peter asks him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus reiterates: “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you?” Jesus predicts that “before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.”
How similar our lives are to Peter. We want to follow. We want to be on the right path, but sometimes that is just so hard. And we deny Jesus on more levels than just saying, “Jesus? No. I don’t know him.” Our allegiances wane in other ways too.
I have come to realize how similar our paths all are. Whether a single mom struggling to make ends meet, a drug addict fighting the demons of physical addictions, or the oil and gas attorney trudging through daily work, we all have felt times of spiritual bankruptcy, of inadequacy, of the unfulfilled life, the loneliness. Good Friday is a day to come face to face with a God who walks on the road with you.
Amidst life’s trouble, denying Jesus can take many forms. We are good at surrendering to greed, alcohol, the power of money, broken relationships, whatever.
The difficulty is in trusting. The brokenness and questions of life are part of the reality. It is easy to succumb to oppression or difficulty – to think that God denied us, and has abandoned us – when in fact we were the ones who gave up long before.
At the end of the day, we come to know that the way to the Father is hard, and it will require Jesus to help us get there. And in coming to know Jesus, we discover someone who walked through the muck of this life too, who knows about suffering and struggle. Our God can relate.
Even at the desolation of the cross of Good Friday, we can know most fully that the burning love of Christ is never snuffed out. Oh, we may reenact it with Tenebrae services, and hiding the Christ Candle, but in the darkness, we sit together as a community of love, drawn together by the fire of the Spirit and the love of Christ at the cross.
At the end of the day, despite our remembrance of the tomb, we know that Christ lives on, and we have each other to help us through.
May you find your way in the darkness, and ironically may the darkness give you comfort. May your Friday be “Good.”