Easter weekend is a four-day weekend in Britain. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both official holidays. On this Good Friday, several businesses are closed. However, several cafes and shops are open. The Bailey is busy with activity. Rowboats dot the river. People spill out of the pubs and into the streets under the bluest of skies. It has all the markings of a day out for friends and families.
Alas, not so for the post-graduate researcher. I have a few important deadlines in the next 10 days. Deadlines combined with computer problems and several other distractions meant that I found myself at my desk most of the day. I awoke to the feeling that I had an important workday ahead of me. I began my day with some moments of prayer and reflection on Good Friday, but then headed off to work.
This is the first Holy Week in several years that I have not had any ministerial responsibilities for the services that mark Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter Sunday. It has felt a little odd, so I decided to throw myself into my theological work. Durham Cathedral, a few hundred yards from my study desk, was holding a Good Friday service, but that was billed as a full three hours long. As much as I’d like to, I could not afford half a day’s work up there.
I spent my day pouring over theological works about Sin, Grace, and the forgiveness offered to the world. I wrote profusely about the need to share it in real and practical ways. At the end of the day, satisfied with my writing, I climbed the cobblestone street to spend a few moments of reflection in the Cathedral. As I walked through the nave to the a pew near the front, several people tour around. They took note of the architecture, had picnics on the lawn, made dinner plans, told stories, and played with their children. In the middle of the transept, stood a simple wooden cross with a red cloth draped across it. This is to symbolize the blood that Jesus shed at his crucifixion. Only a few people seemed to notice it as they walked by. Dozens, maybe hundreds more, walked around the city oblivious to that cross.
I wanted to yell out, “Can’t you see what is going on?!?” to them all. Then it hit me, I too was quick to treat the day in the same way. I was a little too absorbed in my work to take more time for reflection of the work of the cross. My guilt, and Christ’s forgiveness hit me simultaneously.
Easter is a the greatest day in human history. It is the greatest, not because of bunnies or eggs or anything like that. It is the greatest because of resurrection, Jesus’ resurrection. In order to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection we must also remember his death. What’s so good about Friday? I think it begins with the fact that while he hung there on a cross, the Savior of the world watched those he loved ignore and abandon him. That did not change His love for them. Nor did it change the work the cross accomplished for them. That’s what’s so good about Friday.
As I walked home along the people strolling the river, I resolved to contemplate anew what is so Good about Friday. I am also resolved to share that message of love to as many, and in as many ways, as I can. Would you join me on this Good Friday?