Turning point

A reflection for Good Friday

Good Friday is a day on which I often feel torn. It’s in many countries the start of a long bank-holiday weekend, so the ideal time to visit friends and enjoy the time together. Yet, today of all days in the year, I find it hard to enjoy myself. I feel disturbed: somehow it feels inappropriate to have fun. Yet, should I really let this event from the past – an event at which I was not even present – control my feelings, rather than what is happening today, in the present?

foot of the cross

I suspect that this is a feeling to which many can relate, particularly in a time of grief. When we mourn the loss of a loved one, it can feel wrong to continue with our daily tasks. It can become hard even to eat, to get up, let alone to read the newspaper or to smile at a funny comment. For me, it is one of the most compelling reasons that the famous line in the poem ‘death is nothing at all’ is plainly wrong.

The feeling of loss, of not knowing what is ‘right’ or not, we also collectively feel at this time of the international pandemic. Of course, there are the practical restrictions to keep us and our neighbours safe, but – particularly after watching the news – we may also be left with the feeling that we should not or cannot live a normal life in the light of what is happening around us, and we don’t know what to do.

These feelings are normal, they make us who we are, and there is no point in denying them. Yet, we also need to find ways not to be overwhelmed by them too much, although there are times when we just need to accept that we are. These moments in which we feel most lost, when we feel most pain, can also become moments of intense clarity and a new beginning.

I remember well a Good Friday spent in Berlin. After the morning service at St George’s Church, I went to visit a colleague and friend who had just given birth. It was maybe one of the most profound ways in which I have ever kept this holy day, as it powerfully brought together the past, present and future; the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Maybe one way of looking at today, is to feel its weight and to place it in God’s hands. To acknowledge the pain that still shapes us, and to place it at the foot of the Cross. Here it is, in the darkness of this day, that new light begins to dawn, and it is only because of the deep darkness, that we are able to discern it: we would have missed it otherwise.

Eternal God,
in the cross of Jesus
we see the cost of our sin
and the depth of your love:
in humble hope and fear
may we place at his feet
all that we have and all that we are,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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