Today is Good Friday and in a little bit I’m heading over to The Refuge for our contemplative Stations of the Cross, Refuge-style. This is an important day that wasn’t a big part of my Christian experience until a chunk of years ago. I was part of churches that, on the whole, focused all their energy on Easter services and doing whatever they possibly could to get more people in the doors that day; they consistently skipped over Good Friday and Holy Saturday completely. I love this day and this prayer because it’s the place where real people live.
Many years ago, the Refuge did an intense series over Lent where we put ourselves in the cycle of the last three days of Holy Week, starting with Friday–the night Jesus was crucified–with a look at death. Then we moved to Saturday, the day after, when the sorrow, shock, and lament at the reality of loss kicks in. And on Easter Sunday we looked at the new life and hope that comes through the resurrection.
We spent the majority of our time focusing in on Friday and Saturday because they are the most overlooked days when it comes to typical Easter revelry.
However, if we are honest, Friday and Saturday are the places we live the most.
Death, shame, loss, doubt, insecurity, confusion, pain are part of our human experience.
I spent years trying to cover this part of life up, pretending it didn’t exist, believing it wasn’t okay to acknowledge how hard and dark and confusing life and faith can feel because I was a “good Christian” and good Christians focus on “Sunday.”
I am continuing to learn the art of acknowledging the beauty of Friday and Saturday and Sunday living.
Without death and pain and tears and suffering and not-knowing, we can’t really experience life.
I get that now, more than ever, but I also acknowledge that I have an internal pain-avoider-meter that wants to skip Friday and Saturday and land on Sunday. What is interesting for me how un-Christian it feels to focus too much on Friday and Saturday. As I re-write this yet again, I can feel that pull inside that says people are so sick of hearing about pain and struggle.
Which so often this means that we avoid honest– honestly with ourselves, God, others,
We forget that without death, we cannot have life.
Without pain and suffering, we cannot experience healing and God’s comfort.
The propserity gospel skips over that part. It makes it seem like good Christians, faith-filled people, need to learn how to live in Resurrection Sunday all of the time.
It feels dishonest.
And I personally think it is dishonest.
Jesus was pretty clear that in this world we’d have a lot of trouble. That life would be hard. That we’d experience great pain, great sorrow, great loss, and following Him meant some pretty big costs.
But the beautiful part–the Sunday part–was that in the midst of all of it we could also have access to God’s peace, hope, life, and the transforming power of resurrection.
For some, these things might be easier to access than for others.
We have to be extremely careful we don’t make the “not-so-good-at-Sunday-people” feel like losers because it’s just not where they are living at the moment, that those hurting and wrestling and doubting and wondering and grieving aren’t considered unfaithful.
We might have more to learn from Friday and Saturday people than we think.
When I see my friends grieve, let themselves be angry at God, say hard things out loud, it’s Holy with a capital H.
Real intimacy with God, with other people, requires us to live in not just Sunday but Friday and Saturday, too.
I love that both pain and beauty can exist in the same experience.
And I hate that both pain and beauty can exist in the same experience.
If I’m honest, I want all good, no bad. I want ease, not discomfort. I want happy, not sad. I do not want my kids to hurt. I don’t want to hurt. I want all the easy feelings in friendship and relationship and none of the hard. I want everyone to feel free and loved and whole 100% of the time and not have to experience the pain of lost jobs, lost relationships, lost dreams, lost faith, lost hope.
But that’s not how life works.
The resurrection means nothing without the sting of Friday’s death and the sorrow of Saturday’s grief.
I am the first to say “I am tired of Friday and Saturday. God, when’s Sunday coming??”
But i am practicing the spiritual discipline of truth telling, of staying in the moment and forcing myself to live in the tension of sadness, loss, anger, confusion, doubt, disillusionment instead of falsely skipping to where I think I am “supposed to be.”
I am learning that real life is this crazy combination of Friday-Saturday-Sunday.
They all bleed together in some weird mysterious way.
Over and over and over again, the same cycle.
Maybe a piece of our spiritual journey is learning to embrace and celebrate the three-day weekend, Friday-Saturday-Sunday, each day an important part of our story, others’ story, God’s story.
Peace to you in this midst of real life this Good Friday.
ps: Photo Credit – the amazing Jenny Herrick from The Refuge. Other posts for this Holy Week Series: oh, we love our kings, turning over tables in the temple, the great distraction, bombs & feet.