Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Mini Meditations

Today, much of Christendom will celebrate Good Friday, the day that remembers the Crucifixion of Christ. This is the day that no bread can be consecrated. Many Christians will fast today. Some, like my dad, will fast until Easter morning.

Last night, on our way home from Maundy Thursday service, my spouse and I talked about how Good Friday was our favorite service, although my ultimate favorite was Christmas Eve--his was Good Friday. We loved the drama, the darkening sanctuary, the slamming of the book. I went to a suburban church where the service never changed much from week to week. What a treat to have these dramatic interruptions. How I wished we could have had more of them.

Yesterday at work, a colleague asked me why it's called "Good Friday," when the Crucifixion was such a terrible thing. I talked about the traditional view of the Crucifixion as being necessary for salvation and redemption, that because of Christ's pain, we get into Heaven. I talked about my view, not as traditional but shared by many, that Heaven is a lovely bonus if it turns out like that, but that Christ really came to show us how to live here. I talked about what Crucifixion meant to the Romans, that it was a punishment reserved for enemies of the state. I talked about the idea that this new way of life that Jesus proposed, a life where we care for each other and for the oppressed, was so radical that he was seen as a threat to the empire, and so he was killed.

I had love on the brain because of Maundy Thursday, and I stressed the love angle. At the end of our talk, my colleague said, "I really like this vision of yours, this God who loves us."

As I drove to Maundy Thursday, I thought how sad it is that this vision of God as a God of love was such a surprising image to her.

Liberation Theology, of course, would stress this idea of Jesus as enemy of the state and that the state saw him as worthy of the supreme capital punishment because of the radical way that Jesus lived. Here are some quotes, which I first found in Nora Gallagher's Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith:

"Both [Marcus] Borg and [John Dominic] Crossan think that as Jesus traveled from town to town, healing and preaching, he lived an itinerant's life. He seems to have deliberately placed himself just outside the reach of the Roman empire. The way he lived spoke. As Harvey Guthrie, the former dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, put it, 'Jesus' life said, You can live like this and it's okay. In fact, this is the kingdom of God.' His life was marked by an activity radical for his day, or for ours.: Jesus sat down with what Crossan calls 'nuisances and nobodies.' To know with whom people eat, Crossan points out, is to be shown a map of social hierarchy." (p. 121)

"The Church has put too much emphasis on personal sins, [Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo] Boff would say and ignored the greater sin of collaboration with the powerful. The poor don't get that way by accident." (p. 119)

"The poor and oppressed live with two dreams says Crossan: 'One is quick revenge--a world in which they might get a turn to put their boots on those other necks. Another is reciprocal justice--a world in which there would never again be any boots on any necks." (p. 121)

Whichever aspect of Good Friday you choose to meditate upon today, may you have a day that reminds you that God chose you and God loves you and the redemption of the world is underway.

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