Good Friday is a symbol for the darkness in our world. On Good Friday we who strive to walk in the way of Jesus, reflect upon his death upon the cross. The cross was a means of torture and death used by the Roman Empire to keep the occupied territories in check.
Jesus was crucified because he was a threat to the fragile stability in occupied Israel. The religious authorities were threatened by his popularity and heretical ideas. The Romans simply wanted to keep order and to that end put Jesus to death.
Good Friday remains a symbol for the violence of our own time. Like Jesus we live in a world which readily turns to violence to resolve differences. Now in our eleventh year of a protracted war in Afghanistan and with the painful memory from a war of choice in Iraq, we may wonder if the violence will ever end.
Someone said, ‘we are called to be Easter people, living in a Good Friday world’. Good Friday and Easter, asks us to remember that God’s love is more powerful than the forces of darkness. More powerful than the Empire, the narrowness of religious leaders, more powerful than the indifference of the crowd.
To be an ‘Easter people’, is stance, a posture, a way of leaning into the world, believing ( sometimes against all odds ), that love expressed through forgiveness, reconciliation and non-violence….will ultimately have the final word.
I recently returned from Nicaragua. My first visit was in 1988 when that nation was at war with Contra rebels (financed by the CIA). I saw a people traumatized by the indiscriminate violence that accompany every war. I visited a twelve year old boy in a hospital named Samuel, who had been paralyzed by a snipers bullet.
Yet on this most recent visit, I saw a nation being restored to hope. Still with great poverty and need, yet slowly rebuilding toward a better future. I saw people of faith working to bring health care into the most remote villages. I visited families in the village of La Pimienta, that now have clean water due to the children and adults of McMinnville First Baptist who collected their coins to purchase bio-sand water filters for each home. There is great beauty in such humble expressions of solidarity.
Long after the violence of any given moment in history has ended, people of good will, people of Easter, continue to believe in the restorative power of love. Two thousand years ago, hate and violence were overcome. Two thousand years later, this Good News continues to be lived out all around the world. Darkness is giving way to the Light.
* Thanks to Colin Stapp (cwstapp.wordpress.com) for providing the photo of a cross, which stands as a hopeful witness in Nicaragua.