Every Easter, I reread Philip Yancey’s ending chapters in The Jesus I Never Knew. I find his work on the passion week facinating, even after I’ve read over it probably 10 times over 15 years.
For me, Good Friday is the day that has deepened it significance over time. It has helped me learn to embrace mourning, and to be sad. Many folks like to dress up Good Friday by talking about the resurrection – and a large part of me just wants to say, “Please don’t – not yet. Resurrection Sunday only has it’s power when we embrace the darkness of God’s Friday.*” On Friday, I listen to two songs to end the day: Agnes Dei (the choral version of Samuel Barber’s haunting “Adagio for Strings”) and Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.” I don’t know of a better song for Good Friday than Cash’s hauting version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” If you’ve never seen the video – look it up on YouTube. It’s amazing, stirring, and beautiful.
Saturday (tomorrow) I have an interesting day – meeting a friend who just decided to become a follower of Jesus, and going to one friend’s mother’s funeral. It’s interesting when you are calendaring out your week, and the contrast of such activities makes you pause and reflect.
Speaking of pausing and reflecting, here is a piece from Yancey’s Jesus I Never Knew. Enjoy.
Yet is a real sense we live on Saturday, the day with no name. What the disciples experienced in small scale – three days, in grief over one man who had died on a cross – we now live through on cosmic scale. Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment. Can we trust that God can make something holy and beautiful out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda, and inner-city ghettoes and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth?
It’s Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come?
That dark, Golgathan Friday can only be called Good because of what happened on Easter Sunday, a day which gives a tantalizing clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay, sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.
It is a good thing to remember that in the cosmic drama, we live out our days on Saturday, the in-between day with no name. I know a woman whose grandmother lies buried under 150-year-old live oak trees in the cemetery of an Episcopal church in rural Louisiana. In accordance with the grandmother’s instructions, only one word is carved on the tombstone: “Waiting.”
*Originally, “Good Friday” was called “God’s Friday,” similar to when we say, “Good-bye,” which originally was, “God-be-with-ye.”