It is a strange thing in the nature of the Christian faith that we call this "Good" Friday -- the day that Jesus was killed. But there it is. "Good."
At Broadway Christian Parish we would begin the Easter Vigil at 5:15 on Easter morning, outside around a fire on the darkened street. The new paschal candle would be lit and one of the church members would carry in the light, while singing. Some of the first words of what that person would sing would be "O happy fault..." The words "Happy" and "Good" striking odd notes for this week, this Holy Week.
It is odd and a bit incongruous. Today I was thinking as we walked on Good Friday, that this day truly does "feel" different to me. And the word I would use to describe that would not be "happy" or "good." It wouldn't be "bad" or "evil" though, either. It would simply be different. Let me try and say it this way -- it feels like the story of Jesus that day, this day, somehow feels "in rhythm" with my life.
It's strange for me to describe it as "in rhythm" because I never quite feel like I "connect" to music on Good Friday. At least I haven't found any that I've heard on that day that adds to the day for me -- even though I've heard some fine music already today (and will hear some more this evening).
Years ago, over 20 years ago, when I was regularly in jail on Good Friday, I would sing a song, by myself, in my cell, that I had been taught my first Good Friday in jail by my cellmate. It went Crucem tuam, adoramus domine, resurrecionum tuam, laudumus domine
. Now maybe my latin is rusty and so I haven't spelled these words right. But they sounded right, echoing off the concrete walls of my cell. A lone voice on Good Friday (even if it was my own).
But the goodness of the day I find in many places today, much to my surprise. I talk and walk with an old friend as we reminisce about people we both care about and know. I sit and talk with a friend who has recently lost a person they love more than anything in the world. And though the grief at his partner's death is real and strong, so is the life that is in him. And so is the memory of his dearly beloved alive still in his own life. We talk and we pray. And then there is this - we walk and pray at the home of a woman, Bonnie, who died in a fire about a block and a half from the church. Piled on the steps going up to the abandoned and burned out home are white teddy bears, that have accumulated ash and rain in the months since Bonnie died and her friends and even strangers memorialized her with these bears. We haven't forgotten. We stop and pray -- for her and with her. And that, strange as it sounds, is good.
Later I laugh with some other friends as we talk about our work together at Broadway. These folk here - how amazing they are to work with -- a joy, truly "good."
Later the boys and I run out to pick up some things for Kathy for her birthday on Easter Sunday. We pick through the cards in the store, laughing at most of them, keeping one each for ourselves to give her.
In a few minutes worship will begin here at Broadway. Folks will gather - much is going on in people's lives here, as always. We will tell the story, their will be a somberness in the room, even though the story is "good." It's one of my struggles with how to "celebrate" this day. But perhaps I've already done it. Maybe I'll feel the rhythm.