Why do we call it Good Friday?

This Sunday – Palm Sunday – marks the beginning of Holy Week.

Holy is the week…
Holy, consecrated, belonging to God…
We move from hosannas to horror
   with the predictable ease
       of those who know not what they do. –Ann Weems, Holy Week from Kneeling in Jerusalem

What is holy about the children who died in Syria on Tuesday? What is good about the fact that the church needs to offer temporary shelter to those who do not have a house or apartment to call home. Where is God in the dilemma, the disease, the aching depression? What is good about the crucifixion? What is holy about this week?


Sometimes we compress Holy Week into Palm Sunday and Easter. We celebrate Jesus’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem one Sunday, then break out in loud alleluia’s the following Sunday. Perhaps it is easier that way. Perhaps if we just gloss over the hard parts, then we won’t notice the faces and the traces of ourselves in the betrayal and blood soaked fear and the denial. Perhaps if we blink, close our eyes long enough, then Easter will wipe away every tear that is being shed without our having to do anything about it. Or, perhaps, that is the Christian paradox, what makes Good Friday, Good and Holy Week, Holy. God did not shuts God’s eyes. God did not avoid all that is hard and violent and wrenching about this world. Instead, God became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, a living presence in the midst of the pain, redemptive love showing the world that there is something, someone stronger even than death.

Dear friends, next week, I invite you, I implore you, to enter Holy Week. Mark each day by reading some portion of Matthew 27:11-54; notice the child’s face on television, serve a meal to our guests from Family Promise, imagining that you are serving that meal to Jesus the week of his arrest. Come to worship on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday. Because…

And on the darkest of days, each of us must stand
   beneath the tree
and watch the dying
   if we are to be there
when the stone is rolled away.

The only road to Easter morning
     is through the unrelenting shadows of that Friday.
                                           –Ann Weems, Holy Week from Kneeling in Jerusalem

…Because we cannot have Easter without Good Friday; we cannot have the empty cross without the crucifix, because God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Our journey starts Sunday.

See you in church,

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