Now we are in darkness. We began our journey yesterday, with God forgiving us, washing us, serving us, and feeding us. We were reminded that God knows the darkness we are walking into, and that God will bring us into the light. But today, we are face-to-face with Christ’s death, confronted with the implication that we, too, have participated in the dark deeds that have brought us all to this moment. In the prayers we will soon utter, and in the solemn reproaches, we will hear the myriad of ways in which we have not followed Jesus’ command to love one another, we have not taken up our cross, and we have not given our lives for others. And we will hear that because of things we have done and left undone, we “have prepared a cross for our Savior.” We will be like this sanctuary, and like Jesus on the cross––stripped bare before our God, with nothing to hide behind. We stare our own death in the face.
But today is not the end of our journey. We do not end in tragedy. Today, as final as it feels, as final as death feels, is only the middle. The end is still to come, and we do not pretend we don’t know what it is. We do know. And because of the end that is coming, we call this day Good.
We call Christ’s death, and all death, good because in death, in the darkness caused by us, we see that God’s power to create new life is stronger than our power to bring about death. The story of Creation itself is a story that moves from life and celebration to death and tragedy and onwards, by the power of God, to new life and new celebration. And we call today Good because God is present now, too. In the “now”of the disobedience in the Garden of Eden, in the “now” of Golgotha two thousand years ago, and in the “now” of 2018, God is not overcome by the death we bring. Rather, God takes it, and transforms death itself into new life, and uses it to bring about goodness and light.
In the English language, “Good” used to be synonymous with “God,” although they don’t actually have the same root. Good-bye is the shortened version of “God-be-with-ye.” Today, Good Friday, is God’s Friday. It is not our Friday, though we have brought it about. It belongs to God, and so we turn to God in the midst of it. We call Christ’s death good because God is in the midst of it, and is present in it, and shows God’s power in it.
Because this day is good, because it is God’s, we, too, can be present in it, in Christ’s death and our own, in the darkness of this day and in the darkness in our lives. We can be present in suffering, because God’s presence is healing. We can be present in guilt, because God’s power is forgiveness. We can be present in grief, because God’s power is the new life of Christ, shared with us. We lean on God to bring us through this good day, and all the days to come. We entrust ourselves, our lives, and those we love to the goodness of God, until God brings us to Easter.
And so we call today Good. We call today God’s. Thanks be to God. Amen.