Our world is a difficult place to live. A quick glimpse at the news, the neighborhoods we live in, and our own families reveals the story of the world as a story full of dysfunction and pain. We long for something else. Something different. Something divine. And so we run hard after things that fool us with illusions of healing and wholeness. Money. Success. Social change. Legislative reform. But when all that we run after reveal themselves as illusions, we are left disillusioned. When they don’t fix things the way we thought they would, we’re left wondering what went wrong. We decay slowly from the dreamers of our childhoods to the cynical shells of ourselves that many of us know far too well.
However, there is a different story unfolding. Today, Good Friday, we remember that a man died two millennia ago, believing he was dying for each and every one of us. Jesus of Nazareth was either out of his mind or God himself in human skin. Whatever he was, we can all agree the he is not easily forgotten. He is undoubtably the most transcendent figure in human history. His legacy is obvious, here and now, even in the midst of suffering and pain.
Yes, his followers have often done evil in his name. Over the centuries, genocide and bigotry have been carried out under the banner of the Christian flag. But his followers have also done tremendous good. Education for the poor. Medical care for the marginalized. Freedom for slaves. These are just a few examples of global reforms that were initiated by those who bore the mark of Christ in their lives. It is a complicated story and its nuances are far too many to understand with just a single, narrow perspective. Careful and humble consideration is required. A learning spirit and a willingness to admit that we don’t have it all figured out is where we must begin if we are to experience the shalom, the peace, that Christ himself promised.
Today, as we ponder the cross and what it means for the world, may we open our eyes, ears, and hearts to the hum of new life in the air. It’s all around us.
It’s in the joyous laughter of children too young to know that there’s nothing to laugh about.
It’s in the embrace of lovers celebrating decades of faithful commitment to one another, too old to care about the acrimonious taunts of a generation that doesn’t believe in love.
It’s in the restoration of broken relationships, brought about by the relentless grace of those who refuse to give up even when it feels like there’s nothing left to fight for.
It’s in churches and bars.
It’s in our hearts and the hearts of our enemies.
Good Friday reminds us that Jesus believed in all of us enough to give up his own life in order to afford us an opportunity to join him in writing a different story for the world. So may we yes to this invitation to write a better story. May we give ourselves wholly and completely to the work of making certain that the story of every person on this planet doesn’t end on Friday, at the cross, in the grave, but instead culminates in new life, resurrected and restored, on Easter morning.