Sunday is Coming . . . But It’s Still Friday

It’s noon on Good Friday. Tonight I will gather with others to commemorate the death of Jesus of Nazareth. I will walk away mournful and filled with awe.

Reformed Theology isn’t my personal cup of tea, but one of the petals on John Calvin’s TULIP means a lot to me on Good Friday. Total depravity – it is my condition, and it is the condition of the world. That is why I am mournful. But on Good Friday, my Rabbi, my hoped-for Messiah, Jesus is pinned to a cross to die.

We non-Catholics love to emphasize Resurrection Sunday, and rightly so – it is our greatest hope. I once had a conversation with a church worship leader who was planning music for a Good Friday service that included celebratory songs about the Resurrection. I challenged this person to not lose focus on the darkness of Good Friday. For this one day of the year, I find it important to prevent myself from thinking about Sunday. I don’t enjoy it much, but I think it’s important to resist the urge to escape the tension too quickly.

Yes, I know Sunday’s coming, I know. But Sunday finds so much of its value because of Friday. Without Friday, this Messiah would be still be worth following. But without Friday, Sunday’s Resurrection is just another repeat of the miracle received by Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus. Without Friday, Jesus could have just as easily died from pneumonia. Friday represents so much more than that. Raising people – others, or yourself – is no small feat, but it is not the whole story when it comes to taking away the sins of the world.

So I hope the people I interact with today will forgive me if I come across as a little cranky, especially when I hear or read the excited, eager anticipation of Sunday. I, too, look forward to Sunday. But Sunday isn’t as big a deal without Friday . . . and Friday is kind of a heavy.

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  1. I think it gets heavier: Holy Saturday. After the paradox of the death of God by God, if we are to fully enter into the Easter journey and celebrate it as the disciples, we’re left without hope, as our hope has been overcome by death, death delivered by the hand of God Himself. Most Christians skip over this disturbing truth, and so gloss over what seems to be a periodic part of life: times when hope seems lost, and everything worth living for is gone. When even God seems to have died, and we’re left with…nothing. That’s why some of the first disciples left Jerusalem; they were returning to their previous lives, some by way of Emmaus.

    The gift of Holy Saturday is that it invites us to enter into a paradox, and meditate on its disturbing reality. Where is God? God is dead. What does that leave me with? What, indeed…

  2. Well said Roger! I know that in South Africa, you’re about ready to enter the experience of Holy Saturday despair, even as we in North America are still working through our Friday. May your words haunt us both, and not let up until they have done their complete work in us.

  3. Thanks Steve. I’ve developed these thoughts a bit more here. Holy Saturday helps me enter more deeply into what Easter is about – for some reason, I chose to take Lent a bit more seriously this year, and also discovered a labyrinth at a close-by church (St George’s cathedral, where Desmond Tutu was archbishop during Apartheid), which has been very meaningful.

    I went to a wonderful service this morning at an Anglican church close to where I stay. May Easter refresh your soul and strengthen your hope.

  4. Thanks again Roger . . . I loved your blog post, and will post a follow-up comment there.

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