We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again…what’s possibly “Good” about this dark day? in the Christian tradition, this is the day on which we mark Jesus’ suffering death. We explore stations of the cross, or hear reflections on his last words. Silence, darkness, acts of God that shake the ground beneath our feet… however we mark the day, it’s difficult to find a goodness in it.
I suppose I could google “Good Friday” and discover what tradition led to it’s naming. Wikipedia is great for that. But better for faith to ask for ourselves, right? What’s possibly “good” about a day of violence, a day when the worst side of human nature is on grotesque display? And no flipping ahead to Sunday. That’s cheating.
If you are person who believes that God is good, even in the midst of terror; that God remains present and faithful, even in utter darkness; that God’s grace reaches us, even on the worst day of our lives, even when the depths are self-inflicted; then the goodness of this day might be spoken in defiance. It is a goodness that overpowers even the darkest day we can imagine. Having known Jesus, in life and ministry, we believe in that goodness still, even without peeking ahead to Sunday. Faith rejects the darkness that is implied, and even the darkness evident, and says there is more to life than this present suffering; there is more to me than this darkness within, and there is more to God than I can see from the cross.
To be defiant, this goodness must be bold, and it must be shared. One of the most powerful “words” spoken from the cross is a simple introduction: “here is your son. here is your mother.” In a moment of pain that most of us cannot imagine, Jesus had the selfless presence to give his mother and his best friend into each other’s keeping. In that simple transferral of love, the goodness of God would live on, regardless of what may or may not happen in a hillside cave, three days later. The dying one committed his loved ones to each other’s care, and then committed his own spirit to the goodness he believed, even in a dying breath.