Like many, I would like to wish you a happy Easter, and while I really do, I really can’t. Not yet. We’re not there quite yet.
I write this shortly before our 1:30 Good Friday worship service. We worship again this evening at 8 PM with the Service of Tenebrae, one of my favorites. During Tenebrae we hear the story of the passion and death of Jesus, along with reflections from other passages in Scripture, while the lights and candles are slowly extinguished. We end in darkness.
Not quite what we want – we really prefer the bright light and wonder of Easter. And we will get there. Just not yet.
And that’s important. Our culture, our society, our humanness wants to rush right to the wonder and the glory. Life, however, is different. Life is filled with hurt, pain, brokenness, vulnerability, weakness, and failure. Most of all our failure to live as God calls us to live. The cross is God’s response, and as wondrous as it is, it’s not a pretty sight. The horror and suffering of the cross is repulsive. We want to look away, but we can’t. We can’t because this is reality – and in the end, it is life!
So for the moment, the crucified Jesus is – and must be – front and center. That is today. Good Friday.
But there is more. The crucified Jesus is also the risen Jesus of Easter. That’s an important part of our faith. Jesus crucified is Jesus risen! And there is the wonder and mystery of what God is about – that in death Jesus brings life, and in his resurrection, Jesus destroys the power of death once and for all.
In the end, we need Good Friday. We really do!
But we also need Easter. We really do!
I hope you will find some time this day to ponder on the crucified Jesus, on God’s gift that overcomes all that is wrong in our world, in our lives, and in ourselves. Worship is a great place to start – come and experience the Tenebrae. But if that’s not possible, at least take a few minutes in your own space to reflect and give thanks.
And then, watch for the light of Easter morning. The light of the risen Christ who meets us, calls us by name, and lifts us up to new life (John 20:1-18 – spoiler alert – that’s what I’m preaching about Easter morning!) Know that it is the crucified and risen Christ who frees you from the crummy stuff of life, even from death. And it is the God of grace who makes all this happen, who embraces and welcomes you again and again.
FINALLY…take a peek at a brief message from Bishop Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can access her message here: https://community.elca.org/emailviewonwebpage.aspx?erid=28e9cfb7-1d63-4e70-9f97-45952af34173&trid=28e9cfb7-1d63-4e70-9f97-45952af34173.
So, as we approach the cross and see the crucified Christ, as this day slowly turns and ends in darkness, as we ponder and reflect on life and Jesus, keep watch out of the corner of your eye…
And then, as Easter comes upon us…
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!