I used to wonder why they called it “good”. What’s good about it when we realize it celebrates the day that Jesus was beaten, flogged and nailed to a cross to die? Then, I learned that we have to look ahead to Easter Sunday when he rose from the dead showing that death was defeated and did not have the final word.
Good Friday is good because on that day Jesus took upon himself the sins of you and me and all of humanity and had them nailed to the cross with him.
I’m very thankful for that. It frees me to live my life as best I can, knowing that I will fail often and miserably, but will be forgiven. And, the story tells me that death is not the end. It is not the final curtain; it is only a thin veil separating this life from the eternity that follows. And, what I now know is this: the best is yet to come. I’m 75 and I believe that more and more each day as I get closer and closer to that final curtain call.
In the past, on Good Friday, we’ve gone to church and heard the story presented in the Bible. Some years ago we took our grandson to the experiential service, which walked us through Holy Week, starting with Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and ending with him nailed to the cross and his mother Mary wailing at the foot of it.
This year will be very different. We’ll watch the services on this PC here at home in my home office/study/prayer room. The services will be live-streamed from our church over the internet. The pastors will be preaching to an empty sanctuary. The hymns will be sung by the choir, but they will have been recorded during previous services, perhaps on Good Friday and Easter Sunday last year. We will be here in our home watching. Before and after (and during) the services we’ll be able to connect with other worshipers via the chat/comment feature that scrolls on the right side of the screen. If you’ve watched NPR Live on Facebook or other Live features, you’re probably familiar with it. You can type in comments and send emoticons and others can read them and respond. It is the next best thing to being there. But, it will be different. For one thing, it will be quieter. I’ll miss the din of people chatting in the Atrium after the service, but I’ll also be able to get up and move around during the service and sip from my beverage or use the bathroom, if needed. At my age, that is a blessing.
This morning, I participated in a Bible study via Zoom. I met online with 3 other men and we read and discussed Hebrews 4. It was good to see them and be able to talk with them and to read and discuss the text. We’ve been meeting together for over 30 years, so it was really good to re-connect after the virus prevented our meeting in person.
One of the verses we read said to not give up meeting together. Why? It is what we all need, especially in this time of shelter-in-place and social distancing. We need to remain connected so that we can encourage one another. The Bible says in Hebrews 3:13 to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today.” How do we encourage one another if not by meeting together and talking and sharing our hopes and fears, our sadness and our joy? In our meetings we often laugh. We poke good-natured fun at one another and rib each other. The only things missing today were our faithful server Justine, who waits on our table at Denny’s. May God bless her and her family in these trying times. And breakfast was missing; we had to provide our own before or after the meeting. We did have our coffee and tea to drink, but each person had to provide his own. Life is never perfect!
My wife and I worked from home for over 20 years during one of my careers. One of the things we learned during that time was that it was important to get out each day and see other “monkeys.” The idea came from a wise counselor and has to do with an experiment where a monkey was isolated for a long period of time and became quite depressed. He lost interest in everything and eventually stopped eating. When put where he could see and interact with other monkeys, he responded and was soon back to his normal self. The idea is that we have to see other people (“monkeys”) and interact with them each day to maintain a healthy mental outlook on life. So, my wife and I would venture out to the mall each morning and walk some laps, greeting other walkers and chatting with some of them.
Now, in this time of COVID-19, I try to get out each day and take a walk around the neighborhood. I greet people and have some brief conversations with them. Seeing other “monkeys” helps keep me sane. Sitting here and typing and interacting with people online via Facebook and Zoom and email also helps. We humans need connection, we need community.
We are in a very real sense, all connected through that Great Connector that some of us call God. It is that Grand Connection that inspires us to reach out and do what we can to help one-another, especially during these difficult and trying times. I pray you are safe and healthy and in this brief post you’ve found something of value and that we’ve made a connection.
Peace, dear reader, peace. May the joy of Easter find you and rest upon you. He is Risen. He is Risen, Indeed.