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Good Friday is a good day indeed

Look in the mirror this morning. Look really hard. You did this.

Don’t look away. You are responsible for the sadness and the darkness,

Think about. How could you do it? Why did you turn away?

If I had to choose between Good Friday and Easter as to which day is the most important in the church calendar, I might be able to make a strong case for Good Friday.

To be honest, I never really gave the day much thought — even after I started taking my Christianity seriously.

When I was a child, Good Friday was little more than a day off from school. The day was about shopping for Easter clothes, dying Easter eggs and hanging out on the couch at the house.

Growing up in the church, I knew that Good Friday was the day that Jesus died. That fact always raised more questions than answers,

If Jesus died on this day, why is it considered so good?

It is easy to pass this day without much thought. We know how the story ends. Why dwell on this the darkest of days on the Christian calendar?

After all, the dogwoods and pink azaleas are in bloom. The chirping of birds fills the morning air. Blue skies and bright sunlight are too tempting to think about church.

There is too much to do — many errands to run to prepare for the family feast. We need to iron the linens, clean the china, cook the ham. Suits need to be pressed and dresses hemmed.

Why contemplate the sadness when joy awaits? Why look at the cross when there is so much to do before celebrating the empty tomb?

While Jesus may have given up his last breath on a Friday several thousands of years ago, that fact does not tell the whole story.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus chose to die — despite our betrayals, despite our sin. God chose love even though we were too busy to think and to contemplate our actions.

More importantly, this day shows that we cannot save ourselves. Without God we are left in the darkness living with our sins.

Yes, we know how the story ends. We celebrate the joy, but do we know the why behind the celebration?

I stumbled upon this quote from from the Rev. Robert G. Trache, former episcopal bishop of Atlanta:

“Good Friday is the mirror held up by Jesus so that we can see ourselves in all our stark reality, and then it turns us to that cross and to his eyes and we hear these words, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ That’s us! And so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. We see in that cross a love so amazing, so divine, that it loves us even when we turn away from it, or spurn it, or crucify it. There is no faith in Jesus without understanding that on the cross we see into the heart of God and find it filled with mercy for the sinner — whoever he or she may be.”

It is a good day indeed.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.