It’s Easter weekend friends.
Friday night we attended our Tenabrae service. It’s a service of music and candles where we listen to the story of the life and death of Christ and leave in darkness and silence after the last candle is extinguished. My almost 9 year old sat next to me with wide eyes waiting for each flame to go out and nervously held my hand as the Christ candle went dark. As we rode home Pastor Jason and I talked with the girls about how, on this night, we remember that Jesus was put to death. They were quick to remind us that Easter Sunday was just around the corner and He would soon be alive again.
For us, it’s hard to be immersed in the darkness of Friday. In the back of our minds we too know that Sunday is coming soon. In fact, I was on my long weekly run Saturday with friends and we were winded and tired and cranky near the end and I joked “it’s a great day to suffer. Jesus is dead.” But I think it’s important for us to remember that the Son of God was put to death by the culture around Him for doing things that were unpopular. He associated with the wrong crowd, He asked people to move outside of their comfort zone. He never accepted the status quo and the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” from those around Him. Those in power were suspicious of Him. His mandate to always care for the poor, widow, the orphan and the outcast among us put the normal pecking order at risk. And it got Him killed.
He died in a way that was painful and humiliating. He friends turned their backs on Him. His mother was devastated. Why is it so important to remember Friday? Well, without the death of Christ there can be no resurrection. Friday reminds us that when we are in our deepest suffering, when we seem to be surrounded by darkness, that, in fact, Christ has suffered and is suffering with us. He walks with us through the darkest hour and reminds us that light has overcome darkness and He has overcome death. Friday reminds us that when we are unpopular for acting outside of our comfort zone or caring for the least of these around us, that Christ walks alongside us. Friday reminds us what sin is capable of doing but also what God is capable of overcoming.
And then Sunday comes. Jesus is not dead. In fact, He is alive. He physical body beaten and killed is restored with a beating heart and a familiar voice. A voice His mother recognizes when He speaks her name. Even death itself has no power over Christ. How easily we forget. Today Pastor Jon preached about overcoming the fear of death. He told us that when we don’t fear death, when we don’t fear suffering, we are truly free to live as Jesus asked us to live. That’s the power of Sunday. As I looked around this morning I saw dozens of faces in my church community that make life better. People that remind me on a weekly basis of God’s love and His mercy. People that truly believe He is alive and we are charged with continuing the work He started. As Pastor Jason and I served communion to some of the least of these in the sanctuary I was reminded that not everyone will understand our actions or our words. Not everyone will agree when we reject the notion to fear and embrace the mandate to love. It will make people nervous when we reach out to the poor, the widow, the orphan and the sojourner in our midst. It will certainly cost us but I can’t help but believe it will be worth it.
On Friday is was easy for people to say that Jesus was wrong. On Sunday it is hard to deny that He is right. May we never forget Friday but always move forward in the hope of Sunday.
(photo cred: pastor jason and jimmy midd.)