Friday, March 29, 2013

the truth about Good Friday

Today for me, along with those who share my faith, is known as Good Friday.  I must confess that for a good deal of my growing up years I was mystified by why this was called Good Friday.  I mean really...from Jesus' perspective on a cross it couldn't have been "good" could it?  It was about death and dying.  I always wondered why this day wasn't known as "Black Friday" instead of the day after Thanksgiving.  Shouldn't Easter Sunday have been named "Good Sunday"?  The only thing that I could possibly see as "good" about it was that, in my day, it was a holiday from School.  Now in these days of tolerance and equal time and all, the most that even Christian schools can seem to get away with is a half day off.  I guess its really a wonder, with this depth of understanding, that I ever entered into the field of pastoral artistry.  Fortunately I have come to see the relevance of the "good" in Good Friday.  The "good" is actually not about Jesus, but about what this event means to us.  It's good news because this very sacrificial act  stands in the place of our own inability to live up to the holiness and purity that God originally intended for us. It's good news because he died for my sin and shortcomings so that I can live free from them in community with a Holy God.   It's good news because he hung on the cross at all.  After all, him being the son of God and all, and within the great mystery of our faith he was/is God, he did not have to endure the events of the original Good Friday.  He could have called down angels, he could have come down from the cross, he could have not taken up the cup of suffering in the first place. He proved that he didn't have to just by the fact that on Sunday he rose, rolled away the stone, and went for a walk with his friends.  I can't hope to explain it all, nor would I want to, even in my role as a pastoral artist. 
I do think however that I understand the motivation...the mindset... the ability to take on this unthinkable task when he obviously could have done it another way.  In the book of Philippians we learn about this Jesus that although he was God, he didn't consider that to be something to hold on to, in light of the needs of his creation.  So he "incarnated" himself.  He became flesh and blood and walked the very earth that he created.  In short, he didn't hold on to the entitlement that one could argue was certainly his to hold.  Entitlement .... its a pretty big word that basically means, I deserve it, I've earned it, its owed to me.  Interesting.... he surrendered entitlement on behalf of and to live among and die for a creation that certainly has a tendency to wear our own entitlement like a badge.
One small example for us to consider.  I live in Seattle, where there are more dogs than children.  Now don't get me wrong...I love dogs...I've been a dog owner.  But in this part of the world, besides bicyclists, dog owners can come across as some of the most "entitled" people on the planet.  The other day I was chatting with a guy who manages what are considered to be "luxury" apartments.  Its a place that actually welcomes dogs into their community...and consequently dog owners.  This guy was sharing with me that there are actually people who live there who let their dogs relieve themselves anywhere they wish...hallways, elevators, etc.  This despite the fact that there are stations placed strategically around the complex with bags intended for owners to use to pick up after their four legged children.  Now I know what its like to be out with your dog and forgot the bag and well, a dogs gonna do what a dogs gonna do.  That's not the case here.  You don't even have to buy your own.   And yet...they cannot even be bothered.  So the maintenance crew, who don't have dogs at this complex mind you because they probably couldn't afford the rent, has the task of cleaning up after the "entitled" ones. 
Here's the thing that I think we have such a hard time comprehending about this God who demonstrated his love  for us and this Jesus loving us enough to die for us thing.  Its all about entitlement.  We don't get it because we have such a hard time dropping ours.  Personally I know that grace covers over everything and that the love of Jesus embraces us all.  It's there and its offered, but we have to open ourselves up to the understanding that, although its there and its real, its not an entitlement.  Its grace...its undeserved.  Personally I have a hard time imagining that anyone who lets their dog take a dump in an apartment building can ever let go of their entitlement and receive grace.  Fortunately that's not my call....that's why its called Good Friday.

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