Good Friday. What a horrible name for Friday of Easter week - “good.” Hardly. Dark? Yes. Sad? Yes. Violent? Absolutely! Good? Hardly.
Usually, my sunrise service message is settled long before Good Friday, but for various reasons this year it wasn't. I guess because it had never happened I never thought about how... well, how weird it would be. It's sort of off putting.
We preacher types take the liturgical calendar pretty seriously (for the most part). So, I began my day Friday thinking about the events of “Good” Friday, the betrayal from the night before, the farce of a trial before Pilate, the chanting crowds, the mocking soldiers, his friends denying him in fear, his cry “my God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?,” the torture of a cross... and ultimately the darkness of a tomb. Hmmph. “Good” Friday – right.
That's where my head was as I sat down and read today's scripture: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!”
Three days. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Such tension. It is finished. He is risen... and the day of silence in between.
It struck me - as I tried to write an uplifting message for Easter morning as I was experiencing the devastation of “Good” Friday... it struck me that we NEED to understand the journey of Friday, Saturday, Sunday – we NEED to understand the tension they represent – if we want to understand the fullness of the promise in Easter.
Easter is a story about love winning. It isn't about a violent sacrifice being needed. It isn't about a bloody price that had to be paid. Easter tells us love wins.
Easter is a response to “Good” Friday. It is a response to the hurt and the loss and the pain and the grief and the death of “Good” Fridays of life. All of Jesus' teachings are foreshadowing for this moment. His teachings on love and grace and forgiveness inform the moment that is “Good” Friday. He points to the violence and hate and aggression that will happen saying, “No one has a love greater than this – when they lay down their life for their friends.”
Easter is also a response to “Holy Saturday” (or what I call “silent Saturday”). I imagine that the words “It is finished,” which Jesus spoke from the cross were still ringing in the ears of those who loved him and followed him. "It is finished." Indeed. It was over. The chaos of yesterday - over. The hope for tomorrow - over.
Saturday was a day of silence and not knowing. A day of grief and despair. Hope had been hung from a tree and sealed away in a tomb. It's an experience with which I can identify. I think we all can. Life brings with it tough times. Tough times can bring depression and fear and aloneness - a false sense of a life lacking in love.
But Easter reminds us that ... Sunday is coming. I want you to say that with me, “Sunday is coming.”
Great job! Now I'd like you to help me out with the rest of this brief message. For now on when I say “Easter reminds us that:” I want you to shout out “Sunday is coming.” Let's try it. You see, Easter reminds us that: “Sunday is coming.”
You see, when we say “Sunday is coming,” it tells us something very important – it tells us love wins. Even when facing the difficult parts of this life: the hurt and the loss and the pain and the grief and the death – Easter reminds us that: “Sunday is coming!” Even in the silence, love was waiting for us, reaching out to us, ready to roll away the stones which entomb each of us.
In the darkness of my life's Fridays, in the silences of my life's Saturdays, I try to hold on to Easter – because Easter reminds us that... “Sunday is coming.”
They belong together. The love of Easter shines a beam of hope into the darkness of Good Friday and into the Silence of Saturday. We all have Good Friday moments - times when the hurt and the loss and the pain and the grief and the death seem too much to overcome. We all have Saturdays of silence when we feel lost and alone and somewhat abandoned. We all have those days in life... but we must never forget, Easter reminds us that “Sunday is coming.” It reminds us that love DOES win. That hope is never lost, because in the love of God all thing can be made new again.
Easter reminds us that: “Sunday is coming.” When we are shut away in our tombs of of doubt and hate and forsakenness, when the stones of judgement and greed and violence shut us in and cut us off, we can hold on to the blessed assurance of the love of God. A love that shines in it's fullness on Easter. A love that overcomes not just hurt and loss and pain and grief – but overcomes death itself and promises us that not only do we not have to be alone in the midst of them but that there is new life at the end of them.
That is the Easter story. A story of a love that rolls away the stones which entomb us in life.
You see, Easter reminds us that... “Sunday is coming.”