This entry is going to be short. I feel as though I have seen and read and been exposed to countless musings about this Good Friday and what it means to be experiencing Good Friday when we are (start the list of all the losses, the fears, the doubts, the despairs) that we are experiencing. And, just like other people's blogs, I am not discounting any of those feelings. They are real and legitimate.
But long before there was a pandemic to plunge us into the spiral of feelings we're in, I have been thinking about this day and this night and the terrifying and unjust torture that happened to Jesus. I had been connecting it to the Scripture passages that I have preached on this academic year. If you aren't familiar with my Christ the King Sunday sermon or the one for the First Sunday in Lent, you might want to pause and go check them out. You see, I think that part of the reality of Jesus being fully human is that he fully suffered as we did and still do. And I believe that his fully divine nature was not unnaturally divided and untouched by that human Suffering. But I believe what the miracle and the victory of Easter shows us is how God...through Jesus Christ's first-hand, up-close-and-personal experience of being human...can take all the broken parts and transform them into a resurrected self.
And this is how Love wins and defeats Death, and the forces of cruelty and injustice that attempted to kill Love, and the temptations that thought their allure could deceive Love, are thrown back down and Love becomes the victor and standard-bearer for us all.
I've been reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Meditations on the Cross this Lent. This snippet from a letter to the Leibholz family, written in 1942, seems fitting for our time:
"There are so many experiences and disappointments that drive sensitive people toward nihilism and resignation. That is why it is good to learn early that suffering and God are not contradictions, but rather a necessary unity. For me, the idea that it is really God who suffers has been one of the most persuasive teachings of Christianity. I believe that God is closer to suffering than to happiness, and that finding God in this way brings peace and repose and a strong, courageous heart."
And so, as I think about this time of uncertainty and this wilderness moment, I am also believing in the God who is actively at work in this moment of suffering to bring about a transformation. If I can express hope in all of this, it is that as we emerge from the cloud of COVID-19 and all the holes it has exposed in our social safety nets, we might turn back toward being a more loving people than what we have been. Maybe we'll see the need to take care of our infrastructure, our health care system, our economic disparities. In this way, I diverge from Bonhoeffer. If we actually cared for the sick, took care of the widow and orphaned, really loved one another, I think we would see God in that happiness.