reflection among the Storydwelling community on Good Friday, April 15, 2022
rooted in John 18:1-19:42
We are tired, beloveds.
Hearing this story, hearing these stories,
Because we love, we grieve,
and grief is exhausting,
and so we are tired.
So maybe this is why we should not try and do theological gymnastics to try and find
something good in this Good Friday story.
Will we draw purpose and meaning out of this death?
Is God present there at the cross and here among us,
and in every place and time that bears witness to the crucifixion of bodies?
But the day was not good, and the cross is not good.
The late theologian Dr. James Cone writes that the cross can heal and hurt;
it can be empowering and liberating
but also enslaving and oppressive.
The cross is the first-century means of doing away with the bodies that unsettle;
the cross is the lynching tree, the execution chair;
the homeless camp sweeps, the gun in the hands of an enraged and prejudiced human.
It is frankly amazing that we steward this story at all;
it is hard to talk about with our children,
it is hard to make meaning of it for ourselves.
Though God knows millions of people for millenia have tried.
And I’m staying I know better than they do–
I’m saying that I feel that same impulse too:
to try and find the goodness here when perhaps there is none.
Tonight I am just tired,
I am just weary,
by the small wounds of my days
and by the big wounds I’ve been too tired to track:
I know there are wars, plural, raging;
I know things cannot remain the way they are in this country,
on this planet.
There is too much pain that has been unveiled in my life,
in our lives,
to keep going as if all is well and good.
The goodness was before:
the goodness was last night.
The eating together, the singing, the washing of our dusty, weary feet.
The goodness was in the life lived in love:
the One who went continually close to the pain,
who went always close up to the wounds–
so that the blind might see, the captives might be free–
and that life was just too good for Empire to allow it to live;
it was just so good that it was unsettling.
A life lived in love, a life that made room for others;
a life that lives in each of us–
the God three inches behind our belly buttons,
an impulse, a vocation, a special kind of heartburn
that, if we let, makes us pretty unsettling too.
You can be unsettling. Your goodness.
I can be unsettling. My goodness.
If I let it.
And maybe tomorrow, or the next day, I’ll let it;
but tonight, I’ve grown sleepy, I’ve grown weary,
and it is the best I can do to simply stay:
and allow the Love that lives in me to labor to give birth
to the grief that will honor my ancestor Jesus and my crucified siblings.