Mark 15: 34
At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
These are the last words Jesus speaks in the Gospel of Mark, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” On the Friday we thank God for.
The Oxford English Dictionary has an explanation of how we came to call this Friday “Good.” It relates to an ancient, well attested association between “good” and “holy.” This explanation also corresponds to other longstanding names for “Good Friday.” “Sacred Friday” was common among Romance languages and the Russians called it “Passion Friday.”
For the occasion of such horrible suffering to be named as ‘sacred’ and ‘holy’ makes ‘God sense’ to me—and forever undermines all common sense that our suffering and God’s power are ultimately and finally contradictory.
There is a resilience to goodness that we are, in every age, so tempted…and for good reason…to disbelieve. Especially when things go dark as they do on Good Friday…and as they so often do in this world. Evil declares victory…exoneration.
I grew up in a Christian tradition that did not spend much time focusing on Good Friday. I do remember hot-cross buns. That’s about it. We knew better. That was before Easter. We lived in light of Easter.
Tonight we will gather in our sanctuary and with readings, songs, prayers, and candles, we will let the story of this day have its say. It will be a small crowd—one of the smallest of any of our liturgical services. I wouldn’t miss it. In a world where “Good Friday” makes so much sense, I need to remember how God is in the midst of THIS world. Then, and only then, do I feel prepared for the 3rd Day…which never fails to take me by surprise.
Prayer: Gracious God, let me not turn away from the reality of this world and its suffering. Let me never forget there is a light…there is a light…there is a love that is stronger than death. Amen.