This blog will arrive on the morning of Maundy Thursday as we enter the holiest and most sobering time of the Christian calendar. This week is when Christians re-enact Jesus’ final days—the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), his betrayal on Maundy Thursday, his crucifixion on Good Friday, the hopelessness of Holy Saturday, and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. This story is the root of Christian faith and life.
The story itself is important, but more importantly is the life to which it points. This year, like very few other years before it Good Friday and Easter are playing their way out in our very lives. All of us are experiencing the anxiety, suffering and loss of Good Friday. All of us are waiting for an Easter to save us from this heavy and uncertain time.
I personally am experiencing it. Since my heart attack in January, I have been concentrating on minimizing the stress in my life. Only one-third of the way through my cardiac rehab the pandemic has forced me to kick into a higher gear and my rehab has been suspended as a “non-essential service”. Talk about bad timing.
It’s impacted my family too. My second child has been working toward becoming a full-time hairstylist for two years. On March 15 they (formerly “she”) reached that goal and quit their second job. Four days later the salon closed due to “stay-at-home” policies. My adult child went from two jobs to no job in a short four-day period. Again, the timing could not have been worse.
This is how the themes of Good Friday are playing out just in my family. I know that if this is true for me it is also true for you. I know there are thousands more stories just like this with only the names and a few minor details changed. There is no good time for a pandemic to hit, and no one is escape its impact one way or another.
Good Friday is not just a religious holiday this year.
We are going to be living with loss and death for weeks, if not months. We are in an extended season of Good Friday. This is our reality right now. The good news of Holy Week is that Good Friday is not the final chapter of life’s narrative, but just the prelude to new opportunities, to new possibility and to resurrection life. Yes, it is a particularly painful chapter to have to endure and negotiate our way through, but it is not the end of the story. Easter is God’s spectacular finale.
Even now, we see signs of Easter. People are going out of their way to help and support their neighbors. Pollution in major cities has virtually disappeared. Resistance to trying new ways of connecting have suddenly dissolved away. Families are realizing that this imposed isolation has become a gift as they have pulled out the board games and baked cookies together. Old friends have found reason to reconnect and re-establish friendships. People have discovered a depth of character formerly hidden. Faith is no longer just a religious word, but a lived experience.
The reality is that we are probably going to experience more Good Friday than Easter for the foreseeable future. If medical scientists are correct, the worst is upon us and still ahead of us. The loss of life and the emotional, financial and spiritual toll will be great. At the same time, we know that Easter will show up in the midst of this.
That is our belief. That is our story. That is our lived reality.
It is Holy Week. But this year Holy Week isn’t just playing out in our churches. It’s playing out in our families, our communities, our nation and our world.
Remember, Good Friday and Easter are two chapters of the same story.
We will survive this.
Ultimately, we will thrive because of it.
Lean on each other.
Pray and breath.
Easter will come, I promise!
By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades