Unexpected Goodness: Good Friday

I’m blogging from the emergency room.  My housemate is feeling some severe abdominal pain, and we both think it’s appendicitis.  We’ll see what the diagnosis brings.  But it was certainly unexpected, to say the least.

So was the last ad on the waiting room television: “Viva Viagra.”  Is it me, or is that just weird to see in an emergency room?  Or the Hannah Montana film preview?  Unexepected, to say the least.

Good Friday is my favorite church holiday of the year.  It seems appropriate that something unexpected happened on the day – because it’s unexpected that we could ever call this day good.

Think about it for any length of time – why do we call this day good?  It is only seen as good in retrospect – but I wonder what it would have been called by those who experienced it as it happened.

I never celebrated Good Friday growing up – Maundy Thursday was great because it was when the Lord’s Supper was instituted, and we would arise early for the sunrise service for Easter Sunday (complete with a great potluck afterwards)

My church celebrates Good Friday in a very solemn way – with a Tenebrae service of darkness.  The service is at dusk, and the last sunlight is softened by the blue stained glass as darkness comes. The seven last words of Christ are read, with seven sets of seven candles lit throughout the sanctuary, With each word that is read, one of each candle set is darkened until complete silence and darkness sets in.  Through sad, mourning songs, my soul opens up in pain and I truly feel deep sorrow.

Kinda like my housemate right now – who is in a lot of pain.

I’m hoping that it isn’t appendicitis – but if it is, the pain led to a deeper understanding of the weight of what was real.

I wonder if the pain that was felt on the first Good Friday (when we didn’t know yet it was good) by Jesus was more about the physical suffering or about being abandoned by his Heavenly Father.  How could goodness be found in such tragedy?  The weight of what was real was Jesus screaming on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” For the first time in all time, the Son of God became God-forsaken.

There dying as a criminal between two thieves, bloodied and humiliated, was the God of the universe, who endured pain and shame until he committed himself into the hands of his loving Father.

How could this Friday be good? Because, as Jurgen Moltmann sais, “God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him.”  The older I get, the closer I hope that day is.

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April 2009

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