Good Friday, 2019
Kevin Gore, St. Andrew’s Mountain Home
What do you say when everything you’ve known, everything you have worked for is over in the blink of an eye. I often wonder about the disciples on Good Friday. Even though Jesus had tried to prepare them, even though he explained to them again and again what was going to happen, this had to have been devastating. It had to have been absolutely terrifying to see their teacher murdered by those in power. Mary, his mother, certainly would have heard Jesus too, and even if she understood what we was saying, nothing would ever be enough to prepare her for the loss of her child.
Good Friday is a day of contradiction. We call it Good Friday, and yet on this day we are somber. We are sad in a way because we are contemplating the gruesome torture and death of Jesus Christ. Yet, this is the culmination of Jesus’ ministry. Everything in the Gospels are prelude to this moment. Good Friday is a day of contradiction because on this day we do not, we cannot celebrate the Eucharist. The eternal God of all Creation is dead. In incarnate form, he has been nailed to a cross by the principalities of humanity, and has, as the creed says, descended to the dead. It is a day of contradiction because in it we see that God’s greatest act of love required humanities’ greatest act of depravity. It is a day of contradiction because after all that, we still call it Good.
We have, of course, the benefit of hindsight. We know what comes next, and it is so very tempting for us to want to move quickly through the uncomfortable implications of what today brings and get to what comes after Jesus’ death. But we slow down instead. We purposefully take time to meditate on Christ’s suffering. To contemplate why Jesus died, how Jesus died, and what that means to our faith. In a moment we will be given time to venerate the wooden cross that is brought forward. We do this to show our respect, love, and devotion for everything this object has come to represent. This is the means by which God conquers sin and death for all eternity. This is the object which represents the greatest love which the Creator can show their creation.
It is important for us to keep in mind that the disciples, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, that all those who followed this man from the Galilean countryside now think that everything is over. All the miracles, all the teachings, all of it has come to an abrupt stop with Jesus’ death. They don’t know what’s coming next, and for some of them it will be too hard to believe even with Jesus standing before them. Just as the temple curtain is torn in two, so must the hearts of those that followed him, believed in the Kingdom of God he preached, be torn asunder. Today is a contradiction because even though we call it ‘Good Friday’, it is a day for our hearts to be torn as well. Jesus is dead. Jesus is gone. Now we wait to figure out what to do next, just as they did two millennia ago.