Good? Friday

Today is Good Friday. It has always struck me as strange that the day Jesus was killed is called good. Some commentators note that “good” in this context refers to “holy,” or “pious.” Others call it good because they believe that it is good that Jesus died for the sins of the world.

Since learning that the notion of Jesus as a sacrificial lamb is a misreading of the Gospels I have tended to ignore the good part of this day. It seems more like Tragic Friday, or Sad Friday. If we named it as such we would be much more honest about what is going on. It is a sad day when a passionate man trying to call his community to a new way of compassionate living is arrested, tortured and executed. This is a tragedy.

Last night during the Maundy Thursday service the loneliness and pain of Jesus’ separation from his friends came home to a particularly profound way. The darkness seems to overwhelm the candles as they are slowly extinguished. So, too, the darkness of the power of greed and oppression slowly, but surely, engulfed Jesus. A reality as true then as it is now. It is good to sit with that awhile to be reminded of the brokenness of the world.

There is something, though, that is very good about this day. As suffocating as the darkness may have been, it could not put out God’s light. There is always the glimmer of hope’s eternal flame shining a path to a new way—no matter the night. But that is the story for Sunday.

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