We have arrived at the point we have been preparing for. Over the last 40-ish days, we have received ashes, fasted from food and other comfortable things, faced up to the hard truths which God forgives, prayed to a God who is always listening, and today we find ourselves in a story of violence ended by trust, of terrible suffering transformed into infinite love.
We prepared ourselves to experience the feast of this Sunday, Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of Christ and with him, our own resurrection. After all the quiet and hard moments, joy and creativity spill forth unbounded – it makes sense to be excited and looking forward to this weekend.
Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day we remember Christ’s death. We might ask, along with my four-year-old niece, why is it Good Friday? What happened on that day was terrible! It was evil, the worst form of violence. It reminds us of so many acts of oppression and violence against the innocent in our world; it reminds of our own wounds; it reminds us of the violence that has found its way into our own hearts. What could possibly be good about it?
Christians, who have encountered the risen Lord, see how Friday makes Sunday possible. But before we get to Easter Sunday, let’s spend today looking closely at how Jesus walked to the Cross, and see what is there.
From sitting down and giving himself to the friends who would all betray, deny and abandon him, through his ambush in the darkness, the humiliating interrogation, the crowds screaming to see him killed, and the final walk of torture and death, Jesus only walked in complete trust.
Jesus trusted God. That’s what is Good about Friday. He showed us a path through violence and oppression that did not get lost in revenge or shame, but led to resurrection. Jesus trusted that God would transform the violence he was experiencing into beautiful, abundant, indestructible life. Not just the violence against him, but all the violence in the world, and the violence within us.
Violence into life. Suffering into love. That is Good, even in the midst of evil.
Today and tomorrow, as you think of the death of Jesus, think how he looked forward to the moment, not because of its evil but because of its goodness. Imagine what his trust was like as he went through such difficult moments, before his trust was fulfilled, before his resurrection. On Sunday, imagine the corpse of Jesus shining with light and opening his eyes, alive and transformed, and imagine the joy of trust in God fulfilled.
Because we have Easter Sunday, because we have Good Friday, we can live with the same trust Christ had. Through every difficult, impossible moment you go through, the way into life and love is by taking every step trusting in God. Trusting in God not to give up hope. Trusting in God to reach out for help. Trusting in God to hear hate but not accept it, to see violence but live peace.
Trust in God. It is possible. It is Good.
This Easter Sunday, may the trust in your heart be fulfilled.
Let us pray from an ancient prayer called the Exsultet, prayed at Easter vigil as candles light.
This is the night,
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!
O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!
This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.
The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end Amen