Easter was pretty atypical for us this year. In fact, it was very difficult. Chris and I found ourselves flying over the Atlantic on Good Friday, in preparation for our beloved sister-in-law’s funeral on Easter Monday, the day after Easter.
Those days of what many of us call Holy Week, felt more poignant as we stared in the face of death. The death of Jesus, yes. 2000 years ago. But also the death of a sister, a loved one, a friend.
Good Friday didn’t feel very good. In fact, Good Friday has always puzzled me. I know that it’s “good” because it’s the day of the week Jesus died. And I understand why the cross and his death are so powerful. So it’s never been a theological puzzlement for me – as to why Friday is “good.” It’s always been more practical.
Why isn’t it called Black Friday and Good Sunday? Or Good Friday but Better Sunday. Isn’t the resurrection the whole point? Anyone can die, but to rise again from death…well, that’s something to celebrate.
Sunday has always felt great. Not so much, Friday.
And then there’s the lostness and confusion of Saturday. In a metaphorical sense, that’s where most of us live, right? In a sense of limbo and uncertainty – if we’re honest. Perhaps we should call it “Realistic Saturday” and celebrate it as the most often-lived day of our lives.
But as I grow older, I’m coming to appreciate Friday more. Death always precedes life. In God’s Kingdom, we actually can’t have life without death.
- If we want to bear fruit, we must die.
- If we want to be great, we must serve.
- If we want to be first, we must be last.
- If we want to win, we must lose.
- If we want control, we have to give it up.
Friday is more than a substitutionary necessity. It’s the most basic tenet of the Kingdom. It’s when we pick up our cross (die) and choose to follow Jesus, that everything begins. New life begins at death. To be born anew means we choose to give up our adulthood and become like a little child – simply trusting. Dying to our own wisdom and our own ways. All that we’ve learned as adults vanishes at death.
And this is the way of Jesus. It’s simple trust. Childlike faith. Giving up to gaining all.
On Easter, we talked, and cried, and remembered, and honored our sister-in-law, Sue. She was the matriarch of Chris’s big Greek family. We loved her and will miss her. But, her Friday is over, her Easter season has come. Now that she’s died, she will finally be truly alive.
It’s a beautiful and upside down Kingdom.