Friday, March 21, 2008

Good(?) Friday

The grass was a blend of greens and browns, still brittle and susceptible to breakage as I walked across the lawn. Stepping around marble slabs and tipped over flower vases I made my way to a maroon tent that covered a hole, it's opening yawning into the darkness of the damp earth. My shoulders shook. The wind was whipping the sides of the canvas and small flecks of frozen precipitation occasionally stung my face. My nose was running. I wished I had remembered my coat that was left hanging in my closet at the house. It didn't matter...really. I had a responsibility that stepped outside the bounds of personal comfort. My friend was hurting.
His mother had passed away on Tuesday. We had received the news around noon that day. It was to be expected, but it was still rough. Less than thirty minutes earlier we had prayed that God would sovereignly show Himself and intervene in this situation. With those words still ringing in my ears I dialed my office phone to reach my wife. My voice cracked as I relayed the news, a small tear squeezed from the corner of my eye. It wasn't the loss that I was feeling - it was a piece of my heart breaking for my friend. He was carrying quite a load.
Funeral homes. This one was an actual home, converted sometime in the past to accommodate groups of grieving people. Today we gathered together to encourage those who mourned the loss of a mother and friend. I don't think I'll ever enjoy going to a funeral home, I guess that is an impossible task. The words of the minister were blending into the swirl of thoughts that swished through my mind.
Good Friday. She had mentioned Good Friday. What was a blip in her speaking was something that smacked me in the face. In the midst of thinking and praying for my friend and his family, I had forgotten what day it was. Today is Good Friday. What is so good about this day we Christians celebrate?
Joseph. He took responsibility to lay Christ in a tomb that day. This day. This day we remember the death of Christ. Comfort was set aside to perform the tasks of burial. It had to be tough. Death never is easy. Not even for believers. Good-byes are rough. Jesus was laid in a tomb, perhaps a last look over a shoulder and then... good-bye. He was gone. Gone.
My friend turned from the couple who was speaking to him, I grabbed his hand. I gave him a hug and told him that I loved him and would be there for him. These times are difficult. His eyes were moist as he began to leave the area of the tent. He stopped, looked back and shed some tears. It was a good-bye.
It is ironic that we call today "Good" Friday. What's the good in death? There is nothing but pain, sorrow and loss with separation. Is there any good? Who cruelly decides these things?
Sunday. It's coming. When the first rays of sunlight encroach the darkness of the tomb, they will reveal a void. The tomb will be empty. Gone. Christ will have risen. He will show Himself to hundreds of followers before transitioning to His rightful place at the side of His Father.
That's the hope we have as believers. There will be a day when we all, dead and alive, will live eternally with our Savior. The pains and struggles of this life will give way to the joy and peace of the next. The joy begins with the pains of death. Seeing the whole picture assures us that this day we celebrate as Christians is in fact...good. It will be worth it all - someday.
Why? Because Christ went before us. Victoriously.

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory". Death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore my beloved brethern, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. ~1 Corinthians 15

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