Good Friday Reflection

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Friday, April 20, 2020

John 18-19

 

Prayer.

 

It’s Good Friday.

 

The traffic in our mind has come to a stop.

Everyone loves a good wreck,

As long as it happens to someone else.

Hit the brakes.

Join the rubber-necking masses.

Stare with near obscene disregard for decency.

 

There lies the victim,

Yet uncovered,

Right out in the open

For the whole world to see.

 

Never mind it was someone’s son or daughter,

Mother or father;

A name, identity,

A history, family, character.

Someone’s friend or foe, teammate or rival.

 

A corpse is among us.

Like a child at calling hours

We look up at him

Searching for any sign of life.

A breath.

Movement.

A blink of the eye.

 

Nothing.

Gravity is the only force left,

Like a slow drip from a leaky faucet.

 

This evening

We’ve known all along

Jesus is the one doing the dying.

 

We just experienced the Passion narrative.

It isn’t as if we haven’t heard it or read it many times before.

We know the plot,

The characters,

The outcome.

From a garden encounter, sword play, arrest, and trial.

To Jesus bowing his head and giving up his spirit,

We know Jesus is the one doing the dying.

 

We know we are all about to die.

 

Oh, these mortal bodies begin to betray us with every passing year.

Aches and pains and doctor visits

Remind each of us

That, one day,

We will be told of our mortal diagnosis.

One day

We will all be changed from the living to the dead.

 

Our peers begin to thin.

Fewer show up for reunions.

Meeting each other at funeral homes and memorial services

Become increasingly frequent.

Ash Wednesday, Memorial Day, and All Saints Days become rhythmic reminders

That we are all about to die.

 

We do not know with absolute certainty what happens when we die;

God’s mysterious nature is preserved.

 

Near death narratives capture our imagination.

Walk to the light; or is it darkness?

The scientific – oxygen starvation.

The theological – light of God.

The unbeliever – “Life is a beach, and then you die.”

Take a look around.

Does this look like a beach?

 

Resurrection has happened before.

But of those who have been resurrected from the dead;

Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter, raised by Jesus;

Tabatha, raised by Peter;

And Eutychus, raised by Paul;

Each lived again

Only to die another day.

So, they’re not talking.

No one knows with certainty what happens when we die.

 

So, what DO we know?

 

  1. We do know that God loves us.

God loves us enough to create us in God’s own image,

To give us the stewardship of God’s wondrous Creation,

And to make an eternal Covenant with us

and with future generations

that God will be our God

and we will be His people.

We do know that God loves us.

 

  1. We do know that God loves us enough to send us His Son.

Righteousness was too heavy a burden to lift,

An expectation too high to achieve,

A hope that was just one bridge too far.

Righteousness collapses under the weight of original sin.

 

We know God became our righteousness

When He sent us His Son,

Jesus Christ,

To remove the stain of our personal and collective sin.

Jesus Christ

Wipes clean our slate

As if we were recreated

Brand-spanking-new.

 

We do know

that God so loves us

that he sent us His only begotten Son.

 

  1. We do know that God’s love is eternal,

Therefore, life is eternal, too.

Why else would Jesus promise

“Lo, I will be with you always,

Even to the end of the earth”?

(Matthew 28:20)

 

Why else would Jesus promise

“Where I go

I will bring you unto myself,

So that where I am

You might also be”?

(John 14:3)

 

Why else would Jesus pray to the Father,

“This is eternal life,

That they may know you,

The only true God,

and Jesus Christ

Whom you have sent”?

(John 17:3)

 

Why else would our resurrected Lord,

Gift to us the eternal presence of the Holy Spirit?

The resurrected Spirit of Jesus is with us

And is in us.

Therefore, we know God’s love is eternal,

And that life, in the spirit, is eternal, too.

 

  1. We know this to be true:

Even as the corpse of Jesus is removed from the cross,

Laid on a slab, washed, wrapped, and laid in the tomb,

Death cannot keep him.

Likewise, we know that death cannot keep us, either.

 

So, let us prepare to visit Jesus

First thing Sunday morning,

Right before dawn’s first light.

 

Death does not win.

The grave knows no victory.

This is what we believe.

This is what we know.

Death will not keep you or me.

 

With Jesus,

There is only life,

Life eternal.

Amen.

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