Today we find ourselves at the cross where we again experience the death of Jesus. We’ve been here before. We come here every year just before Easter to remember that before Jesus’ resurrection he was crucified on a cross for everyone to see. Good Friday is what this day has become to be called. Good…Holy. A special day that returns us to the cross, no matter where we may be in our journey. For some, Easter is the focus, the liminal time when we feel closest to the loving God who died so we may live! Count me in with that group. The belief that the Lord is risen despite death is a powerful thought. The Lord has shown the way through the perils of life and assured us that our lives continue onward! What hope this gives us! But let’s not skip over Good Friday. Good Friday takes us back to the cross to remind us that to fully experience resurrection we must first experience death, sorrow, and vulnerability.
Sometimes it feels like there are other Good Fridays throughout the year. Fr. Steve and I just participated in a clergy Chrism Mass. This is when the clergy of the diocese and the Bishop come together to share in some time together but to also allow the Bishop to bless the Holy Oils for use in the year ahead. There are oils for the sick, for catechumens, and sacred chrism oil. All are used by the Bishop or by other clergy with the Bishop symbolically present. It had been way too long since the clergy had gathered in person I didn’t realize until I was there how much I needed to be there. It was a time to reset, to refocus on the work needed to be done. It felt like a return to the cross where I was reminded of the vulnerability required to experience the joys of resurrection. There have been other such Good Fridays, like the time I was sitting with a family grieving the death of their mother. The more I prayed the more they cried. I finally realized that maybe the best I could offer them was to just sit quietly with them…to be together with them at the base of the cross. Other times, when I’ve sat with someone dying when words seemed so inadequate. All I could think to do was sit there (at the cross) and pray that they may be in peace soon. These times in our lives are difficult. We so badly want to do something for those who are struggling and for their families. I learned a long time ago that sometimes you just have to return to the cross and offer what we can.
We find in John’s telling of the crucifixion story a group of women gathered at the cross to grieve Jesus’ death: Jesus’ mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. What else could they do? Many of Jesus’ disciples had fled the scene afraid for their own lives. But these women stayed with him to grieve. Let that be the example for us. We know what is coming up in the story. The tomb will empty and Jesus will reappear, breathing the promise of the Spirit to the disciples and continuing the mission of Jesus. But let’s not skip over Good Friday. There is no resurrection without Good Friday. We can look ahead and know what to expect on Easter, but do we know what to expect in the days that come before? How will the grief work in us? Can I even make it to Sunday? What is left of me? There is no one size fits all answer for those questions. I think that’s what makes Good Friday so impactful. What is going on in our lives right now and where do we go to get through the day? My suggestion will typically be to return to the cross. Open yourself to being so vulnerable that the only thing you can do is sit with the others and grieve.
I was reading an article in Christian Century about Good Friday and wanted to share a small piece of the story with you.
“Accompanying us this Good Friday are the people we’ve lost to death itself, in some cases unable to touch and be near them, wondering if they felt forsaken. But it’s the other deaths, too. The canceled plans, missed holidays with friends and family, strained or absent relationships, changed dynamics with those close to us due to discord, accelerated decline in churches and other institutions we love—all these deaths, too, come alongside this remembrance of Christ’s suffering and the grief of those who love him. They can’t believe this is happening, and neither can we . . . Diving into the disciples’ grief invites us to be honest about our own. There is good news in this Gospel reading and this holy day: that the very heart of God has known grief like our own and lives through being forsaken. We know, even on a day like this, that Christ does not abandon disciples in their inability to believe what’s happening. They are not left scattered, angry, frightened, or numb. Disciples are gathered again and again around the word and fellowship to be loved, forgiven, and empowered to live with and through their grief. This is the grace of Good Friday, that Christ trusts in God’s power and love even when we struggle to do so.
When the tomb is nearby, it is Jesus who awaits us to call us forth, through the grief of the cross into resurrection life.”
 Michael Fick, “Diving into the Disciples Grief Invites Us to be Honest About Our Own, Christian Century, March 24, 2022, Accessed April 10, 2022