Friday, April 3, 2015

A day for grief

1 Thessalonians 4:13Amplified Bible (AMP)
13 Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [[a]in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave].

Good Friday is always an interesting time. Even the major networks this year are fascinated with the life of Jesus and the controversy He stirred up. He spoke with authority: something that no one had really heard. The Pharisees and scribes were constantly trying to get the Jews to "like" them so they could manipulate them. Jesus didn't seem to give a damn whether you agreed with him or not. He preached Hope, and taught about this crazy thing called Forgiveness. The people were amazed. Love him or hate him, whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God or not, the words He spoke changed the world forever.

Unfortunately, what Christianity did with that Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness for the next.... oh.... 2000 years probably wasn't what the world needed. Jesus even told us it was going to happen: brother against brother, children against their families... that wasn't His plan. We made it ours.

Today, we celebrate Good Friday. Some will mock that the day Jesus suffered an agonizing death for us. So beaten, that he didn't even look like a person. Humiliated and scorned by the ones He was actually dying for... Why on earth would it be called Good Friday?

Because of what that death meant.

Some of you know (but most of you don't) that I lost my mother to cancer about 4 months ago. It was an interesting experience. Mom had mental health challenges all of her life, compounded by some wonderful, but enabling family and friends, mom never really got it. She became involved in toxic relationships that basically poisoned her against me. I had to make some very tough decisions and establish some firm boundaries or my family would not have been protected. Unfortunately, that cost us a lot of our relationship, and I didn't really get to see her for her final months, until I stayed the night with her - the night she passed away. She left more problems in her wake; no executor was ever named, no will, no funeral arrangements, not even her last words. I was left with the clean-up, just like always. So when she passed away, in some ways it was an enormous relief.

I knew because of her history of having a relationship with Christ that she, at the core of it all, had truly accepted Him. The layers of dirt, bad decisions, pain, and scorn were only covering the golden box that was her salvation. Mom's heart was in the right place - even when her brain wasn't.

Easter and Christmas are the two times that churches actually have extra services just so they can accommodate everyone that comes through the door. People that haven't been to church since last Easter, or even 4 or 5 years before that seem to be pulled in by Easter. Why? What's the magic of Easter that everyone suddenly cares about?


It's not the suffering of Good Friday that everyone wants to hear about; it's the Hope of Sunday. The
hope that for all the hell that we go through, the fights, the tears, the pain - that there's an answer for all of it. It's the promise that maybe our kids will find their own gold boxes that they've hidden under drug abuse, rebellion, or alcoholism. That even when we screw up, that God can make something out of our mess.

On Good Friday, I encourage all of you to grief what you maybe haven't grieved before. When my mom passed away, it wasn't the grief of losing her that was so hard. It was the grief of understanding that I really never had the Mom that I was supposed to have - and now I never would. I didn't bond with her like I did with my grandparents. Unfortunately, I really don't have any happy memories of my childhood with her in them. I wanted her to be the grandma to my kids that she could never be. That's what I grieved. Because my Dad abandoned me, I finally had to grieve that I was basically an orphan. That's an interesting concept at 34, but a real one all the same.

The part that makes Good Friday so... Good. Isn't that it happened; it's why it happened. The suffering, the pain was to atone for all the crap that we heap on our gold box. It's God Himself tearing to shreds a 3-foot-thick curtain so that we can always ask for forgiveness, always be in the presence of God, always be accepted by Him. Not as a stand-off-ish, impersonal god, but as our Parent. The Parent we never had; the Daddy that wants us to climb onto His lap and weep, or laugh, or sit quietly. Good Friday is there to remind us that even when we have to ask for forgiveness a thousand times a day (maybe that's just me) for the same thing that the debt has already been paid.

There is still real grief in the world. There is still real pain, real loss, and real tears. Good Friday reminds us of that. Maybe that's why everyone wants to push it under the rug? No one wants to be reminded of pain. But with that reminder comes the promise that Sunday is coming.

Sunday is coming.

You don't have to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. This isn't a salvation message. But there's a tomb in Jerusalem that's empty, a shroud... anyway... just sayin...

Mommas, some of you have had some terrible losses. I know I'm not the only one on the interwebs that has lost a parent. Some of you have had some heartbreaking, terrible days in the last year. It seems like Good Friday has lasted for years. My only words to you are that it may be time to start digging for your own gold box. Underneath all of the years of hurt and disappointment, find the time when you knew God was real. If you've never had that, there's no better time to get your own box! It won't tarnish - no matter what's on top of it. It can never be taken from you - even if you try to give it away. And it will never change or lose its value.

Good Friday can be just as good as Sunday.

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