The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a lot of glorious things, but at this moment, I’ll call it the most CRAZY and most LOVING thing that has ever happened. Ever. Still, culture slips Easter into happy holiday garb with great ease and some of its glorious strangeness has been lost to more comfortable phrases like hope and new life. I certainly love the inspiration and warmth of these things, but still, they are too mild for the real Easter. Pastel maybe. Pastel next to a Cross and a Holy Story and Gospel News that is Glory-White. I had an art teacher who once explained to me how the color white has all the colors of the visible spectrum. It has no hue. It is so bright and so blasting in its purity that we can’t really get it, but we try, because it’s white and we just need it. Pastels are really no substitute. This is how the Glory and the necessity of resurrection is.
Good Friday, of course, is a hard one to make happy. Whether I remember the day growing up with such poignancy because of its sadness or because of its strangeness, I don’t recall. It was probably the combination. I remember that an usher would slam a hymnal down in the back of the sanctuary to reinforce the END-NESS and Jesus’s heartbreaking words: “My, God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The drama intrigued me. Then, we left this funeral-feeling service in silence. I remember feeling like a lot was at stake right then– that evening, on the car ride home and especially as the words of that hymn, “Were You There When They Crucified my Lord?” stuck to a strange tightness in my throat. I treasure these deep feelings of loss, neediness and awe because I think it was my small self coming to the Table and taking a bite.
I think about the glimpses of Good Friday with which I suffer. Indeed, this is just my portion, but a portion to which I can speak. And this Good Friday evening, I am thinking about the weight of sin. The heavy cross. The black, bruised bloody night. I am thinking about darkness that does not go away; that stays and hovers– cursing the silence. I am thinking about violence that wrecks havoc on generations, knocking sons and daughters silently to the ground. I am thinking about love growing cold, un-defining itself, and turning its own pages in perfunctory silence. So, we clench our jaws and our fists, striving and working, but still, things fall open and stay that way: wide and gaping. Pain and loss can just be sudden and impossible, can’t it? And the truth is, some people recover and some people simply, do not.
This is depressing. In the truest, rawest, saddest most non-flippant way: these realities are truly, truly dark.
It’s all the stuff of Calvary, isn’t it? Good Friday. I think about the way followers of Jesus: men and women thousands of years ago must have questioned everything as they turned to walk away from Jesus’ body hanging so dead on the cross. Their heads must have been low, their feet and their spirits dragging on the ground. We thought you promised redemption Jesus. This is it? Jesus, you have confused us. I never imagined goodness to be so broken, Jesus. I never imagined your perfection to be so full of shame. I thought you came to save us!
I was not there when they crucified my Lord, but I imagine this kind of desperation between heaving sobs and the trauma of the whole, bloody, God-awful scene. I imagine it with ease because I ask my own, hard Good Friday questions now. I feel confused by the swallowing sin. I feel these sharp, shiny fragments surrounding my own heart and others’ hearts and society’s heartbeat and wonder about the jaggedness of it all. Jesus, I am confused.
And here, I think, is part of the Easter-answer: We must know these jagged edges to know His great Love. It is essential to our confession of faith. All of the jagged edges for all of Christ’s time and this time and the time to come slammed into that one awful, hallowed night and killed Jesus. And then it was finished. He whose loving might and glory holds all of time and all of Earth together, sealed eternity for us. But that Easter morning, that Glory-white morning, marked the most finished-beginning the world has ever known. Anyone can say that Jesus’ life and ministry was full of grace. But to acknowledge His death and resurrection is to believe that the conversation has now turned from Water to Living Water. Everlasting Water. Flowing, abundant, clear, cool water. And it has a glorious, changing, off-the-radar, off-the-spectrum force that outdoes any sentiment.
Jesus, how I underestimate how this grace can flow! So in faith, I take this invitation and step in. In faith, I abide in this current that meets me in my stagnancy and silt– the same stagnancy that kept the Earth still and the women weeping Good Friday night. And I will be carried in this current, cleansed of my silt, abiding in Your love and knowing this, this is THE story and I will sing this redemption song to others in the best ways I know how.
Pic found here