It’s Good Friday.
Last night was our Maundy Thursday service at Bethlehem. It was very moving, as usual. At some point during the evening, as some song in a minor key was playing, I thought to myself, Why is there such a timbre of sadness here? Passion week is the crux of our faith. Of course the sadness only lasts for the night; joy comes Sunday morning. But the fact remains that there is a real grief and sadness associated with our remembrance of the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ, even though we know that it was planned, and that it was not the final word.
That got me thinking: Christians might just be the healthiest people in the world when it comes to dealing with the twin realities of pain and joy. Last night, as we were mourning the worst crime in history and our sin that necessitated it, there was an air of hope and anticipation as well. While it is Friday, we know Sunday’s coming. And because there’s an Easter Sunday, all of our Fridays will always be Good, even when darkness descends at the sixth hour. When Jesus died and rose again, he changed the duality of our experience of grief and rejoicing forever.
This means we Christians can weep, truly weep for evil and atrocity without being destroyed by it. And we can rejoice, truly rejoice for good favor and fortune without needing to forget about suffering. I suppose that’s the nature of hope: it unites such disparate things as pain and joy in the reality that our Lord endured the cross for the joy set before him.
So weep tonight, knowing that joy comes with the dawn of Sunday morning; and rejoice this Easter knowing that your joy is rooted and grounded, not an illusion of happiness in the face of a bleak reality.