"Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:30
Just what is so good about Good Friday?
In my town, we do well to draw 100 people to our ever-soulful, always-provocative ecumenical service. I like to think that's because it happens in the middle of the day and most folks prefer an evening service in their own church, but . . . those services aren't so well-attended either.
Many of us simply recoil from any focused consideration of the torture, execution, and death of Jesus, not to mention the accompanying grief, guilt, and tortured theology.
And that's a shame.
How can we fully celebrate the Word become flesh if we are unwilling to acknowledge the vulnerability of that flesh? How can we realize the reality of God-with-us if we refuse to engage the powers of oppression, injustice, and violence that are also with us, always and everywhere?
Good Friday shows me the power of surrender, how Jesus freely gave what the powers of empire and death were determined to take. It reminds me that Jesus calls me not to die, but to live—and that truly living and loving as God loves means standing with God's people through hell and high water.
For me Good Friday takes all our high-churchy words about God and love and makes God heartbreakingly human and love utterly real. I leave a Good Friday service newly aware of how far God is willing to go with me, for me, for us—and that makes me want to give more and go further.
So why not find some way today—at a service with others or in your own meditations—to spend some time at the cross with Jesus? Discover for yourself what is so good about this dark day.
O God, thank you for all the ways and all the times you stand with us and stand in for us. Thank you for the life and sacrifice of your son Jesus, our brother and friend, who shows us the way to life abundant.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.