"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Saturday, April 10, 2004 GOOD FRIDAY/HOLY SATURDAY
I went to the Cathedral last night for the Good Friday liturgy. It feels weird and incongruous to say it is one of my "favorite" liturgies, but it is certainly one of the most important liturgies to me.
John Kilgore preached a brief sermon ... about how you can't fully appreciate Easter without Good Friday and also that you need to go through Good Friday with the knowledge of Easter coming.
I'm not sure about that.
The first part, I agree with. The brightest, most joyous Easters have come after I have had a real experience of Good Friday -- whether that be in the liturgical calendar or in my life. But the second part ... there I'm not so sure.
Because it seems to me that Good Friday is about meeting the emptiness and desolation head on. Somehow doing it continually reminding ourselves that "it's OK, Easter's just around the corner" is kind of like saying "don't worry, it's not real." The truth is that both are real -- VERY real. The resurrection of Easter is real but so is the bleakness, the death of Good Friday. And at least for me, to experience it as fully as I can, I have to let myself be in that place and not mentally leap forward over Saturday to Easter.
I live a secure life. That I am almost completely free from suffering and death is emphasized by how the times of suffering and death in my life stand out. In Tanzania, where one of three people is HIV positive and funerals of loved ones are a weekly, if not daily, occurrence. On the streets of our city where children live in utter hopelessness. In families where cancer or Alzheimer's or any number of other diseases have taken people through agonizing, isolating deaths. In countless places around the world and down the block, death and suffering are a way of life. The moments do not stand out. They are a continuum.
Good Friday is not just remembering a crucifixion of years ago. It is remembering the daily torture and death of God's children, of Christ's body every day. It is, even for one day, allowing ourselves to stare that bleakness, that desolation full in the face and claim it as our own ... claim our own role in causing it AND claim our own part in suffering it.
Easter will come. We know it will. And thank God. But for one day, especially for those of us for whom suffering is NOT and everyday occurence, let's give it its due.
For one day, let's sit at the foot of the cross and just be still as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Let that stillness creep through until today ... even as we go about our tasks of the day ... doing homework, cleaning the house, taking Schroedter to T-Ball practice. Let Good Friday. Let that desolation. Let it rest on our hearts. Let us spend some time in a place that we absolutely cannot control, that we absolutely cannot make better by ourselves. That absolutely leaves us powerless.
Let us spend time in that place where we KNOW that we need God because we are utterly helpless and hopeless without God. Cultivate that desparate need. Feel the doubt of Holy Saturday. The doubt of the tomb before it became empty.
And tonight, as we light the first flame of Easter and hear the salvation history and celebrate with bells and Alleluias the first Eucharist of the resurrection, let us rejoice.
But not yet. Not now.
For the tomb is not empty yet. The suffering and death have not been vanquished.
Easter will come ... no doubt about it. But for now, let us wait without it.
| Mike at 4/10/2004 11:54:00 AM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."