Each year, as Good Friday approaches, it seems like some song works its way into my mind. It’s a day unlike any other in the church. This liturgy is unlike any other we do. This observance, unlike just about any other in the church, is decidedly mournful. Even funerals aren’t this mournful.
Throughout the rest of the year, we can remember the hope of the Resurrection. But on this day, just for a moment, we have to suspend that hope and focus instead on the mourning. Because death is real. It’s real for each of us, and it was real for Jesus.
So today isn’t like any other day.
In the face of such strangeness, I find that my mind is opened to seeing church in different ways than I typically do throughout the year.
This year, as this day approached, I kept hearing this song. “All That We Let In”. I kept hearing it playing through my mind, and when something gets stuck in our minds like that, it’s worth stopping, and listening to it – figuring out how it ended up there.
I think for me, it’s been hard having so much of the world and our experience of it stuck in thinking about distance. It’s been hard worshipping behind locked doors, and not being able to look into each other’s eyes.
Now the world is necessarily demanding that we keep more out - keep more people out, keep more things out, that we keep isolating. And it’s strange for us not to be together – especially during these days that are so important to our shared faith. So much of what it means to be a Christian is about our relationships and our shared experiences. So it’s inherently hard to express our faith in an age of “distance”.
In a time like this we have to be all the more conscientious about letting each other in. We have to work harder than we normally do to ensure that we are letting each other in – particularly when we have to, by necessity, hold each other at a distance. Because we are better off for all that we let in.
Christ brought God deeper into the human experience. That's where God wanted to be. And we're better off. We're better off despite the pain, despite the brutal crossing over. Because the greatest gift in life is to know love.
But in joining in with us and with our experience, Jesus had to experience death. That is the one great equalizer that brings us all together. It is the one undeniable and unavoidable feature of life.
It’s not uncommon to fear death. But one of the sacred truths I've learned in my time as a priest is that death is holy. Just as parents will likely tell you that birth is an experience of holiness, I can tell you that death is, too. That doesn't mean it's not painful. That doesn't mean it becomes easier. But it does mean that God lives, even in death.
I’m not going to propel us into Easter today. I’m not going to propel us into the Resurrection, and certainly not into the celebration. Instead, I want to invite you into this moment. I want to encourage you to let this moment into yourselves.
This isn’t the end of the story, but it is a part of the story. And we’re better off for all that we let in. Amen.