Text: Mark 14: 53- 15:47

Good Friday brings us to the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.
It’s a story with many players. And it’s a story that over the years has become laden with meaning … some of it redemptive … some of it twisted in ghastly ways, like the toxic notion that God needed someone to pay for all the sin of the world, and Jesus was the chosen one. Surely the time has come for us to let that one go … for it in no way reveals a God of love.

Surely the time has come to see the cross through another lens … through the lens of Jesus’ fidelity to God’s non-violent way of love that all may have abundant life; and along with that, the lens of the costly gift of human freedom … the cost to God … the cost to the whole creation, for in our God-given freedom, we are capable of terrible harm … harm to ourselves and harm to others.

For all the ways we‘ve tried to make sense of the crucifixion and the cross, there is at the heart of this story the fundamental experience of suffering … suffering at every level -- emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. It’s not an easy story to linger with. The sooner we get past it to Sunday the better.

That’s what we might think … until we’re faced with our own suffering -- whatever that might be-- or until we are witnesses to suffering. In the very thick of those times, it’s not likely the Easter story will get us through … at least not that story alone.
When our grief is searing, when we’ve bottomed out with despair, when the pain and horror is more than we can bear … hearing “it’s all going to be okay in the end” doesn’t really do it because that doesn’t meet us in our agony.

It is then that we need the Good Friday story … for the way it speaks to us … speaks for us … the way it understands us in our anguish … the way it joins us right where we are. In the depths of our suffering, when whatever has happened has happened, our need is not to be rushed along. Our need is not to be cheered. Our need is to be found … to be deeply accompanied.

And so today, we let this story be told and be heard in all its rawness. No smoothing over. No rushing along.
We see Jesus bullied, beaten, humiliated, wrongly convicted.
We make room for Peter, howling, beside himself with grief and shame at his cowardice.
We see the women standing near, their hearts tearing, unable to do anything but witness the horror and brutality.
We see one of the guards wake up to his terrible complicity.
We hear Jesus crying out in agony “my God, my God, why? Why have abandoned me?”

We let the story be told and heard in all its rawness.
It’s not about being morbid. It’s got nothing to do with glorifying suffering. It’s about letting this story lay down its tracks in us … that someday in our hour of shattering disillusionment, of our searing grief, of unthinkable horror, of God forsakenness, we will be found and met in a way that matters. We will be met by a Presence that upholds us … a Presence that saves us.

Let us listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church …