Thank God it is Friday, a familiar refrain, one so common even a chain restaurant selected it as the name to draw folks in. Depending on our age, the dawning of the sun on Friday morning might be greater or lesser cause for rejoicing but we all know still that Friday is THE day. School-aged children know the weekend is here, no more waking and dressing and rushing to eat and brush teeth as mom pushes us on to the next thing, the next, hurry hurry out the door. When I was in college we started celebrating Friday on Thursday night, such was the magnitude of the day. (Wonder I even graduated, that might be a different post.) As we enter our working years, family years, the day takes on a different meaning. The weekend holds a chore list that never gets done but still, we rejoice that we have more time with family as we cross of to-do’s and move a bit slower getting up in the morning and go to soccer practice and gymnastics and the grocery store. For retiree’s the days somewhat run together, I know, yet attaching meaning to Friday happens as the group gathers for cards and all the meetings are held at church throughout the week, maybe Friday is left lonely. Still, clearly representing a celebration, a time to rejoice that the hard stuff of the work week is behind and the weekend is ahead, it resonates among those who just need to relax and let go. The phrase means catching up on sleep, lingering over coffee, dining out with friends, attending to chores, ultimately the time is now ours, no longer slaves to the work week. TGIF! Whew, we made it through another week of school lunches and backpacks on the right kid and carpools and deadlines. We can slow down, after work on Friday.
TGIF means we still have to go to school, work, carpool, those last meetings for the day. It isn’t quite the weekend. We can look ahead, we can see it, we know it is coming but we still have to get through one more day. Maybe Fridays are more palatable this way, even though some drag out minute by minute as we wait for the bell to ring, the time clock to hit 4 or 5 or the last guest to leave so we can. We can’t start our celebration until we get through Friday. Actually, it makes me wonder why the saying isn’t Thank God it is Saturday. Full on rejoicing, no waiting. No anticipating. But we are impatient people, we struggle to be where we are, never quite settling in. We look past this moment to what is ahead. Thus we celebrate the day that means the ending of the week even though that doesn’t end until the end the day. Getting a little ahead of ourselves, I think. Much like my desire to rush through the crucifixion of Jesus to get to the resurrection.
I have struggled to explain to non-Christian friends just why we call this day Good Friday. A bit of research says maybe it comes from a belief that this was the fulfillment of the Good News, the Gospel. Or maybe a shortening of God’s Friday, as we like to butcher language when we make it our own. Still, as a child, Good Friday meant just another day out of school, a break to get ready for the Easter bunny. As an adult, I have come to know that this date on the calendar is the real Black Friday, a day of deep sorrow. I know that this day is nothing to rejoice about, that I am so absolutely sinful that Jesus had to die a horrific death, to be shamed and humiliated and pierced and mocked, that each wound might absorb my sins in order for me to ever get accepted into grace. He was left hanging on the cross we wear on necklaces. He bleed out his humanity and became one with God fully again, all for me. What is good about that? Oh yes, it is amazing that He did that for me but that I would need it to be so? That I wouldn’t recognize Him in my midst? Well, I can say I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have helped fashion the crown of thorns, but can I be sure? Honestly, I can’t say I wouldn’t have been part of the crowd cheering as He walked by with His cross, is my sinful nature any different now?
Jesus died for me so long ago, before I came into being because HE knew I would judge and scorn and walk by those who need what I have and forget to visit those in prison and I would say hurtful things and become too righteous to offer grace to those who hurt me. He carried that cross and agreed to die on it because He was surrounded by disciples who no longer believed in Him even though He spent 3 years teaching them and He knew that even though I had a lifetime learning about I him, I would still be a sinner. How could He even bear the weight of the cross as He carried all of my sins too? Good Friday, I think not. This day I will sit with myself and consider the ways that I have squandered His sacrifice. I will sit in my solitude knowing He truly knew me before I knew Him. Nothing really to celebrate there, He didn’t call from the cross that He was doing this for all but Lisa who just wasn’t going to need such a horrific death in His name because she was going to have it all together.
No, this Friday truly is horrible, still I thank God for it. I thank God for the opportunity to slow down and consider how I can do better, be better that such a horrific sacrifice is worthy. I heard a friend say the other day something about wondering if our kids ever truly understand and appreciate all that we do for them. The answer is usually no, not until they themselves have children and sit through sleepless nights and struggle until the next paycheck and find themselves no longer so cool as their kids keep secrets and grow tall enough to look them in the eye. Do we ever fully understand what Jesus gave up for us? The very nature of our humanity seems to mean we have a cap on our empathy, a limited ability to walk in any shoes but our own. Today is the day we can choose to go barefoot and walk with Jesus as He carried that cross and wore that crown of thorns and was pierced and given vinegar to drink. He was carrying me that day, in the hopes that one day I just might get it and carry someone else.
So I am left with TGIF, today, Good Friday. I do thank God for this day, not for the weekend ahead and Easter dinner and colored eggs. I can’t get ahead of myself. Today I have to sit with Jesus on the cross, it’s the least I can do, He is hanging there for me. He calls me into that space with Him, that I might know that while He knows my sins, He also considers me worthy of what He is experiencing. What He is feeling, the pain, the shame, the agony. I am worth it all. Like a hero rushing into a burning building to save a child, that life is now weighty, must be lived with purpose. Regardless of what the world may say, Jesus has whispered from the cross to me, “Lisa, you are worthy. Now go tell others the same. And feed them.” Maybe the restaurant name makes sense after all.
May you be filled with some sorrow for Jesus and our humanity today, that we might not celebrate too soon without knowing fully the loss and what the cost was. May you hear the whisper of Jesus as HE tells you are worthy of his death, as He asks you to love yourself and your neighbor. Let’s make this a really Good Friday.