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Today is (Good) Friday

Today is Good Friday. 

I remember first hearing about the crucifixion of Christ as a girl and finding myself horribly puzzled that such a day could be called “good”. Why would a body of people christen one day of the year “good” when it was the day commemorating the torture and execution of their leader? My young mind could not fathom it. Were Christians some kind of backward people who called evil good and good evil? Were they confused at best or maniacal at worst? 

I remember asking my mother about this while in the car heading somewhere. She gave me a kinda-sorta answer - something about Jesus and sacrifice and… actually, I don’t quite recall other than it being an awkward moment when I felt stupid for not understanding a tenet of my alleged faith that was taken for granted by so many.

I remember junior high - my first year of school “in town”. Noon. Bells ringing. Then silence. Did we leave school early that day? My memories are so vague, yet what does come to mind is that the day was special, holy, dark yet full of hope, and I wished I understood.

I remember a teenage winter a couple years later in which I struggled through the gospel accounts of Christ's life - reading his recorded words that only caused more confusion:

"Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” 

“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

“Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Upside down indeed! It appeared clear to me then that Christians were confused because the man they considered their savior was confused. Still, the words he spoke and the historical accounts I read only wooed me to read more, and so I peeked at the prophets’ writings - men who lived centuries before that inside-out man from Galilee:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - every one - to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

I remember August of that year - a hot, summer in which the lacquered hard chrysalis shell that had kept me from truth cracked just enough - allowing a fragile, wet butterfly to squeeze its way into a serendipitous world in which these words began to make sense and Good Friday became good.

Good Friday is good because on that day, on that cross - Jesus the God-man willingly bore the punishment that I deserved. It is good because, by his dogged obedience, he sought out and brought peace to this war torn rebel child. It is good because, with the tenderness of his nail pierced hands, he bound up the wounds that had scarred my sin enslaved heart. It is good because his pronouncement, "It is finished," only signaled the beginning of everything that is new.

I remember. 

Today is Good Friday, and today is good.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved*— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

*emphasis mine

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