Friday, March 25, 2005

what makes it good

today is good friday. and it amazes me how many companies actually give people the day off in san francisco... not sure why, really. my company for one does not, which is understandable, since my bosses are jewish and they don't get yom kippur off.

but i have tried over the past few years to cultivate a discipline of taking the day off and retreating to some place in nature to contemplate what Jesus' death and the moments leading up to the death all mean. the way i see it, if someone you love has died, you will set aside some time to remember them and all that they mean to you. so this year, my friend michelle and i headed out to mt. tamalpais to hike and find a sunny patch of earth to read the accounts from the bible and to journal, while meditating upon them. it amazes me how something new usually peaks out at me from the pages of the bible. today one thing that stood out was the role of myrrh and whether or not in ANE jewish culture it was used for more than just embalming... would love to ask a rabbi.

tonight we went to a good friday service at my friend jason's church. we sat in a mostly dark room as images of jesus emanated on a screen in front of us. a simple statement flashed along the bottom of one slide "if easter makes you want to sing and jump for joy then good friday should make you want to weep in a corner." later jason led us in a reading, where we became the crowd chanting for Jesus to be crucified, for the criminal barabbas to be released. to hear my voice saying, "crucify Him," startled me, saddened me , made me aware that my voice would have resounded with the crowds. that in reality he needed to die for me to live.

we later had communion, which is a symbolic act of Jesus' body (the bread) and blood (the grape juice) being broken and spilled for us. i almost didn't go up and get any, out of overwhelmedness of the reading mentioned above, but i ended up going to the dimly lit table and picking up a square of bread, dipping it in the grape juice and then depositing it in my mouth. while the bread broke up into various pieces on my tongue, i thought how good and sweet the juice tasted, could feel the grainy granules of the bread swirling around.

what makes it good is that He made it good. Jesus could have chosen to summon angels to protect Him and in a flash they would have been attending Him. He could have chosen so many other paths than the final one to jerusalem that he predicted in mark 10 would lead to death. He asked His Father, God, if the cup of suffering could be taken away, but did not abandon the path, even when He knew suffering and death awaited Him. and though He dies, He will be raised to life again on the third day. In this instance, I think probably one of the best ways to try to visualize this is gandalf in the first installment of LOTR, where even before he goes into the mines of moria, he is aware of what awaits him. by his falling into the pit after the balrog, he allows the fellowship to get out unscathed. he then fights the balrog and eventually defeats it. when they meet up with gandalf later, he is gleaming and victorious. no longer is he gandalf the grey- but now gandalf the white. his power is unmatched and he cannot be deterred.

good friday is good because of the death and suffering of Jesus- because of the outcome of what His death means. it means life for all who follow Him and believe. and that is something worth shouting about.


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