Yes, Sunday’s coming, but…

It is too easy to miss the reality, the sheer immensity, of Good Friday.

The truth of it, if we faithful are honest with ourselves, is we don’t want to focus on the suffering humanity caused. We’re over-joyed to receive and celebrate the compassion and celebrate the victory Jesus won on our behalf, but to deeply consider that we, individually and corporately, are inadequate? No, thank you. To consider our broken state? No, thank you. To consider the nature of God and compare that with our own nature? No, thank you.

The season of Lent, and most especially the week before Easter Sunday, were established from very early on in the life of the church as a season of particular focus on those difficult details. It isn’t our nature to want to dwell on our need for help; our inability to fix this ourselves; to momentarily consider the consequences of Sunday not being here yet. The call to “keep a holy Lent” is not one to simply perform ritual fasting from [you name it] and the expression of joy in worship; but rather one to make space in life by intentionally removing something and using the created space to carefully consider the extent to which GOD went to make a way for you where you could not make one for yourself. Personally. At length.

I’ve heard some of my Evangelical siblings-in-Christ offer that the practice of Lent is a ritual, a religious work that holds little or no good for them. It makes me sad to hear that. I believe that extended time of intentional focus that comes with the seasons of preparation such as Lent and Advent has been of unique and particular benefit to me, giving me a renewed focus, a refreshed commitment to living faith in the Way of Jesus.

Allow me to encourage you? If you have not kept Lent, for whatever reason, you have not yet missed the opportunity. Today is Good Friday. Good because Jesus did the greatest deed of love and justice anyone could do when he made things right with God for you and me. If you haven’t yet paused to consider this, do that today. Take a period of time, perhaps from noon until 3, but any good chunk of time will work, and turn off your phone, computer, music, whatever may distract you, and sit with this, from the book of the prophet Isaiah:

53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Don’t rush past Friday this time. Savor it now, because Saturday and Sunday are coming and we need to be prepared.

 

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