It’s Friday … Friday in Holy Week.
When you woke up this morning, did you say “TGIF – Thank God it’s Friday!” as many did on Fridays before COVID19 because they were grateful Friday had come and they were looking forward to the weekend?
This Friday isn’t just “any” Friday.
It’s different. It’s Friday in Holy Week.
A Friday that many refer to as “Good Friday.”
But what can be “good” about a day when Jesus the man, raw from the lashes of a whip, was laid out, arms stretched and bound with ropes to the rough surface of a wooden cross beam – wrists pierced with sharp spikes – feet nailed together – exhausted body craving release from his suffering – his spirit grieving by the rejection and betrayal of others?
Before COVID19 entered the world, relatively few Christians observed Good Friday by participating in a church service today. And now that churches are closed, no one can do that.
It would be a lot easier to forget the relevance of this day in general and also in light of what is happening around us during the pandemic because many would say that there’s little or nothing “good” about this day.
That word “good” is perhaps a misnomer.
… some Germans refer to today as ‘karfreitag’ (the ‘kar’ being an obsolete ancestor of ‘mourning’) and some parts of the world call this “Mourning Friday”, putting attention on the disciples who grieved and mourned.
… some follow the belief that this day was originally called “God Friday” hypothesizing that today is “good” because Jesus was demonstrating his love for humanity by offering his life. But if that is so, why die in such a brutal manner? Why die so young? Why not take on the sinfulness of all humanity on a deathbed after a long fruitful life of showing and teaching people the way to God?… maybe there is yet another way to understand why today is known as Good Friday. In early modern English, the meaning of ‘good’ had the sense of ‘holy.’ So perhaps the ‘good” is an archaic form of holy.
We actually don’t know the answer.
It’s all conjecture.
Good Friday is unresolved.
It’s a tragic and terrible day.
And COVID19 makes it even more terrible and tragic.
Regardless of what we call this day, it is a day when we face reality head-on … when we take up our cross fully conscious that the Christian walk is seldom easy and at the same time, are aware of Grace in God’s unconditional love.
Titus Brandsma was a university President in the Netherlands during WW11. Arrested by the Nazis, placed in a concentration camp, isolated in an old dog kennel, tortured daily, his guards amused themselves by ordering him to bark like a dog when they passed by him. Eventually Titus died from the torture. What the Nazis didn’t know was that Brandsma kept a diary during that time, writing between the lines of print in an old prayerbook.
It was there that his poem to Jesus was found:
“The lovely way that you once walked has made me sorrow-wise. Your love has turned to brightest light this night-like way of mine. Stay with me Jesus, only stay. I shall not fear if, reaching out my hand, I feel that You are near.”
Good Friday is a day when we remind ourselves that in the Christian understanding of hope, nothing – not even death – can overwhelm the love God has for us.
This day is not an ending.
It is a holy day of a new beginning.