Good Friday Message 2020
You are not alone
Today is a day like no other in our experience of Christian worship. Of course, every Christian in every age has had claim to the same sentiment. I believe this is true because God has always had this incredible way of reaching and responding uniquely to our individual needs and the needs of communities at all times and ages as time unfolds itself in that pageant, we call history.
Tradition shows that I could begin this message by quoting and teaching; Isaiah 52:12 – 53 “Our Lord, the Suffering Servant”, and Psalm 22 “The agony of God’s Servant”, culminated with the victory that is proclaimed in the 23rd Psalm “The Lord is My Shephard”. Just as countless people have done before me when exploring Good Friday’s significance, and indeed you should read those passages in the time afforded you this week. They are essential for reflection and grown in Him!
Today it seems that events have determined to refine our concept of salvation within our society in a new way. “Social distancing”. We the fortunate ones living in the hustle and bustle of Western Civilization, have grown accustomed to a life of going from one environment (work), to another (play), to another (Church), into another (home), and out for yet another (socializing), with plenty of us doing these things on a whim, and repeatedly throughout each day of our lives, as if on auto pilot.
Some of us have been so caught up being busy with life, that we have totally lost sight of what it meant to step back and reflect on some of the deeper things in life. (It’s hard to do when a re-run of Bonanza, or Magnum PI is airing on cable)
Perhaps now that many of you are in pandemic isolation you are beginning to feel board and isolated and in fear at the same time. Falling into in a rut. Not going forward or backward, just living Groundhog Day over and over again, with uncertainty in the background of your mind.
Possibly your outlook has become like Solomon’s, where you are beginning to identify with what he has to say about life in the book of Ecclesiastics 1:4-9
4 People come and people go.
But the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises. Then it sets.
And then it hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south.
Then it turns to the north.
Around and around it goes.
It always returns to where it started.
7 Every stream flows into the ocean.
But the ocean never gets full.
The streams return
to the place they came from.
8 All things are tiresome.
They are more tiresome than anyone can say.
But our eyes never see enough of anything.
Our ears never hear enough.
9 Everything that has ever been will come back again.
Everything that has ever been done will be done again.
Nothing is new on earth.
(Another example of why Solomon wasn’t as great as he thought he was, but that’s a message for another day!)
Or possibly, there is another way to look at where you are right now. Could God be offering humanity as a whole or at least those who will listen a (time out). In order for us to contemplate the things, He has long wanted us to reflect on.
Don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying God is wiping people out, and punishing arbitrarily unfortunate people in this pandemic. What I am saying is that you and I and the rest of humanity are fallen people in a fallen world, that suffer from the evil that exists in this world. Many times, unfairly, to our way of looking at things.
This pandemic shows us first hand what can happen and often does when people act untruthfully, or substitute themselves and other things for God, and react to fear of the unknown, then harvest in hate. Plain and simple, horrible, and repeated time and again throughout all of humanity’s history, people suffer needlessly and unreservedly due to humankind’s fallen nature.
So, what does any of this have to do with a Good Friday Message? The truth of the matter is that the pain, hurt, and fear, you are experiencing right now in your lives individually, are what we must rise above and defeat together as a people. This pandemic reflects our suffering from the actions or lack of action from other people, the source of where this sickness originated. From a spiritual perspective and just Christian resolve, it is no use for us to even point fingers at the perceived perpetrators other than to try and begin to forgive them. This is what we as a people are called by the Lord to do, and this is how we begin to defeat the enemy of hurt, hate, and pain, and claim victory over the fear that resides within each of us.
This is what our God did on Good Friday for all of us all those years ago, and then just two minutes ago, and then one hour from now, and on into the future that you fall short of the mark, over and over again. Forgiving when being hurt by others, when abused, mocked, dismissed, or just plain ignored is what the Lord has already endured repeatedly both on Good Friday, and throughout all of human history when it comes to our fallen nature and lack of expressing faith in Him.
Indeed, two thousand years ago, a carpenter’s son, a charismatic teacher out of the lake region of Galilee Palestine Province of the Roman Empire, took all of the iniquity of the world upon His shoulders and literally carried the sin of you and me to the cross. Every ounce of wickedness that has ever been perpetrated was addressed at that moment. Even those deep dark thoughts of yours. Yes, God knows that dark place where you go, where you retreat into. Bottomless places you visit in the midst of your own heartache, torment, angst, and pain, and that disgust doesn’t begin to compare to where your Lord has ventured to redeem you. Even those recesses of greed, fear, hate, pools of spite that spout out of you like random geysers of furry, have been resolved by a God who loves you in spite of you!
This resolution of pain, separation, and sin, is what Good Friday is all about. Your Lord has worked all this out, and a solution for each of us is available upon our individual acceptance of Christ’s offer for a relationship with Him.
Salvation is that simple, regret, and renounce your sins, invite Him into your life. Then walk with Him as your life begins to be transformed. You will know something is happening, when you begin to contemplate forgiving, when in the past you wanted payback!
And as the Lord forgives our sins, we learn to forgive the people who have harmed us in this life, even the sources of the pandemic that threatens our way of life and our very existence. Yea easier said than done, which is why we need Him in our lives to help us work on it.
So, as we ponder in pandemic lockdown coupled with our isolation on this Good Friday, may we use this time of seclusion to reflect on just how lonely Christ must have felt, and He was forsaken by all before His death. Jesus, as all man and all God, our deity and creator separated Himself, from Himself (The Godhead) for the atonement of our sin on a cross. Jesus knows the emptiness that ultimate separation from God is like, and is able and willing to save you from that experience. Not based on what you have done, but because of who God is!
Emphasizing this Holy time and what it means for the willing, that our God has given greatly to forgive you and I in order to establish a relationship with us. Something we could never do for ourselves. That’s the Good news of the Gospel, and the Good News of Good Friday.
My prayer for each of you during the most Holy time of the year is:
That you will grow in your faith through prayer
That you will find a way to forgive and move on
That you will love other people deeply
That you will take time to reflect on His Majesty
And that you will reach the conclusion that all of this is possible, through a relationship that is growing in Him.