On this Good Friday (originally called God Friday) we are tempted to race to Easter Sunday. Yet, the freedom of Easter is only found in the suffering of Friday. There is no resurrection without death.
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls. 1st Peter 2:23-25
In the moment, bad things can be overwhelming. God's way is to transition even the worst, into something new and even beautiful. There is nothing in this world worse than isolation from friends and loved ones, wrongful insult, physical torture, and finally death on a cross. And yet, the resurrection and the Christian faith, the triumph of love, and hope itself was just three days away.
Good Friday faith is the freedom to suffer with a God that chose to walk through suffering and alongside each of us as we suffer and then let life go as we move into what is next. In a culture that prizes grit and determination and survival, we worship a God whose body was broken on a cross, willingly, and announced “It is finished.” While God is ultimately in the resurrection business, daily, we let go not simply to rise again. We let go because God is enough. God is with us through it all. God has been there and has made the way. We choose faith in Him who understands, lived it, died it, and creates a way through it to everlasting life.
I was picking up a pizza at a local tavern last week. The women at the register asked how the church was going, and I used it as an opportunity to invite her and her husband to worship on Easter. She said she appreciated the invitation but did not want to be lumped into the group of people who "only go to church on Easter." I told her if you only go to worship once year, make sure it is Easter! There is no better day to worship God than Easter!
The fact is, Easter will be celebrated around the world by more people than we could ever count. People who come every week and people who come once a year will prioritize this one day and seek a message of faith. Folks who will hang on to every word of the message and folks who will not sure why Christians are so excited about the resurrection will be in a church on Easter. Those who are proud of their faith and those proud that they do not adhere to faith will show up. Some will be happy they came with their entire family, and others will come just to make their family happy.
Many of you who read this weekly email have gone all in living the values of Big Life and would even be at church in the middle of a snow storm...like you were all winter! Yet others of you are in a different place. Maybe you came once long ago and can't bring yourself to unplug completely. Maybe you came a few times and then life changed or the time got away from you. Or maybe you feel your life actually is too busy to worship consistently. Let THIS be a week that you choose faith. Do not let anything stand between you and celebrating Easter with the rest of the Christians in the world.
I am not sure what will nudge you out the door this Sunday, but I hope something does. We would love for you to make plans to worship this Sunday at either 9:30 or 11:00 at Big Life C.C. As we gather to worship this Sunday, we each will choose to make the most of it. So sing a little louder, give a little more, shake a few more hands, welcome a few moe people, and pray with a little more focus than you would on another day. The resurrection is the reason for our faith. It is the capstone of Jesus' unique place in history and in our worship. It is the promise of God that life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate.
See you this Sunday as we celebrate Easter! Invite a friend, family member, or coworker to come with you to Easter at Big Life C.C.