Today we celebrate [if that is the right word] Good Friday. We mark the most painful day in the three day journey called the Triduum. The liturgy is a beautiful reflection of the sacrifice of Jesus and the love that God has for God’s people. We reflect today on the ways in which we participate in the crucifixion. It is important to take time in the quiet and solitude to ask ourselves how we can step back from the mob mentality that we often participate in. We often participate in the crucifixion when we judge others, when we fail to offer the love and compassion characteristic of Jesus of Nazareth. When Jesus reached out to those pushed to the fringe, it was a powerful and healing act born of his humanity. It was also a witness to us that we ought to do the same. When Jesus touched the leper who had not felt human touch for many years, it again was an act born out of his humanity and it was a witness to the rest of us. When Jesus ate with those who were forgotten and forsaken, it was a human witness to his followers that we must do the same. Jesus stepped out of the comfort zone of the people of the institution and establishment to take on that which may not have seemed sensible to the world around him. Each day we have the opportunity to do the same. We, too, have every opportunity to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the lonely, and set the captive free. Do we embrace that very human possibility or do we stand beside the fire pot and warm ourselves and deny Jesus and deny the covenant that we have with him.
Madeline L’Engle writes in her book The Irrational Season, "We pin him [Jesus] down, far more painfully than he was nailed to the cross, so that he is rational and comprehensible and like us, and even more unreal. And that won’t do. That won’t get me through death and danger and pain, nor life and freedom and joy." It seems that this is painfully true. We have painted Jesus into the frescos of our lives as well as our cathedrals. We follow this Jesus when it is convenient and we abandon him when it is hard to follow through, all the while we do so knowing we have painted this very polite, rational and conventional Jesus who more resembles the Rev’d Eric Camden [The minister from the popular TV Series 7th Heaven] than the peasant Jewish cynic who challenged, who taught, who upset the applecart, who embraced the irrational, who sought to bring LOVE to even the most undesirable of us all. And that is of crucial importance if we want to "…get through death and danger and pain." The truth remains that death, and darkness and pain are not rational and in most cases those feelings move beyond comprehension. God does not simply show up when things are tidy and rational – quite the contrary. God is abundantly present in the chaos of our lives. We should show up in the chaos of others’ lives. We should cry out as Jesus Cried out at the death of Lazurus. We should embrace as Jesus embraced. We should reach to those pushed to the fringe and be present with those who need us the most.
[I have found this to be a powerful image]
We often fail to transition to doing what Jesus calls us to because of what I call the Easter Extenuation. What is the Easter Extenuation? I am glad you asked.
In two days (technically tomorrow evening) we will celebrate the Great Triumph. We will celebrate the Resurrection Miracle. We will celebrate the Divinity of Jesus – he becomes THE CHRIST. I think that sometimes becomes our opportunity to say of the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth, “I can’t be Jesus. Jesus is Lord after all!” Today, Good Friday is for us a tacit reminder of the humanity of Jesus. Today we acknowledge that he died. I think we need to be reminded of that as much as we need to be reminded of his divinity, perhaps even more. We need to re-paint the frescos of our spirituality and perhaps even of our cathedrals. The image needs to be one of the worker, the healer, the supplier, the comforter, the feeder, the LOVER. Today is a great chance to take hold of what we can do as humans when we choose to pay the price. I know that we can do so knowing that the price is so heavily discounted today because of how much Jesus paid 2000 years ago!