Despair really seems to be all around these days. I’m sad to say I have reached the point that I am numb when I hear a news story of a hopeless person killing themselves, worse their whole family or complete strangers, in a fit of despair from losing jobs, homes, etc. Worse still, I’m even starting to get numb when I see such losses (thank God not the suicides) for my clients. A few weeks ago I counted and I had to tell ten different people that if I am your hope for financial rescue, the house, the car, your life savings, etc are gone. There is no hope. The economy is imploding; we are in the midst of two devastating wars at once and could with any wrong move find ourselves in two or more additional ones at any given time; Mother Nature continues to throw us her usual spate of disasters and then some.
Despite the fear and despair many of us feel, some of us almost daily today, few of us can imagine what the early Christians must have felt on Good Friday. By the way, I still can not get my kids to see the day as Good Friday. “Dad, what’s good about the day Jesus died?” is the usual response. Admittedly even I struggle to find the words to make this a good day, but I guarantee you the earlier believers didn’t call it that.
Just put yourself in the disciples’ shoes for a minute. Imagine there you were, just a few days before. Your beloved teacher and mentor entered Jerusalem, the center of your world, not to jeers, but to cheers. People waived tree branches or whatever else they could to celebrate. They did everything to welcome him as a hero. Yourself, Jesus and the rest of your friends had gathered for the traditional Passover meal. Other than some strange talk from Jesus about the bread and the wine, a great meal was had. Great fun with friends, a great celebration of one of your faith’s greatest days. Unless you were one of that group he took to the garden, you went to bed full and happy, unaware of what was to come.
Then, you were awoken in the middle of the night. The soldiers have come for Jesus, and worse one of your own, Judas led them to Jesus. The powers that be, whom Jesus has taunted for too long, have struck back. Jesus has been drug off. Even worse, word is that he has been taunted and tortured. You have heard a kangaroo court was convened and yet even with that, the religious leaders who feared him, could not convince the court of any legitimate charge. Still Jesus was to be put to death. You watched your friend and teacher be forced to drag the implement of his horrible torture and death (and dying on a cross makes modern execution look kind and gentle) through the streets. And if you had the courage, and few of your fellow early believers did, you watched him die slowly, horribly. And now, you wait for them to come drag you away. Kind of puts the whole, I have no money for retirement, to pay the bills, etc into perspective for me.
But if it is not for Good Friday, and having typed this all up, I see the kids’ point, it seems like pretty much the opposite of good., we don’t get to have Easter. Without utter despair and hopelessness, the miracle of Easter does not happen. That day when unbelievable joy and hope emerged from a tomb, until then the ultimate in depressing ends, would not have happened. Without loss, there can be no rebirth.
Need a little dose of what seems like unimaginable to you right now, Hope? Come join us on Sunday April 12th as we celebrate a day when Hope overcame fear and hatred and even death. Our Easter Service will be at 10 AM in Walbridge Park’s Indoor Shelter House and we will be offering a worship experience unlike other Easter Services, no pipe organs, no ancient liturgy, but music and a message to renew your hope. Come join us and watch hope come back into the world.