Holy Week Message from Bishop Cowden
My friend Eric lost his wife of 15 years after an all-too brief few weeks from diagnosis to death. Grief enfolded him. The light was gone from his eyes. Meeting with him some months after the loss of his beloved, I saw there was something different as we looked at one another. Grief was still ever present, but something had shifted in the way he held his eyes. When I asked him how he was doing he told me that he had recently had a revelation. He said he had taken to heart that “a hard day does not necessarily mean a bad day.”
Grief is hard work. The pain of loss moves and changes us in ways we can never predict. Changes in our lives, our bodies, and in our families, especially when they are unexpected, jarring, and debilitating, can leave us bereft, finding our work simply wandering through the unknown.
The centerpiece for Holy Week is the cross, walking through and recognizing Good Friday. Young people, and even many adults, will often wonder aloud why Good Friday is called good. The pain of Jesus Christ suffering in those final, humiliating hours before he succumbed to his brutal death, the pain of his mother witnessing the worst, the fear of the disciples in hiding, the darkness which covers the land, and the cry of the beloved Son of God utterly forsaken make us wonder how any of this could be good. In these moments, in the remembrance in the liturgy of this awful and grievous day, we recall that God is doing the hard work for us and reminding us that our hard work of pain and grief in this mortal life is also to be redeemed.
The work of God, on this centerpiece of Holy Week, is to join our grief, indeed all for which we grieve, to Christ’s suffering and to invite Christ to meet us in our darkest hour. In hearing him cry, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” we hear that Jesus could not see what glory lay beyond the cross in those moments. Often, neither can we when we find ourselves in our own darkest hour. This is where he meets us and goes before us. Good Friday is good because you can trust the cross, and trust Christ’s work on the cross, that your brokenness is not God’s last word for you. Just because it is a hard day does not mean it’s a bad day. I invite you to join your griefs, your confessions, to his. Grief and confession are hard work, but resurrection and reconciliation are the good in Good Friday.
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