Friday, April 14, 2017

It's Friday...

Good Friday. Perhaps the least appropriately named day of the Christian calendar.
Nothing good about the day on which The One who Came To Live Among Us died.
Was unjustly accused. Tortured. Executed by the empire in which he lived.
Three of the Gospels say that upon his death, darkness fell for three hours.
From noon until three pm. Darkness. Sorrow.

Those who knew him best and followed him most closely were gobsmacked, shocked, horrified, and terrified. If the one who walked on water, fed five thousand, healed the sick, and raised the dead himself had died, then what hope was there for them?
What hope indeed?
So that Friday night, they scattered. They hid. They locked themselves away in a secret place.

Which is exactly what I do when I get scared or worried.
I hide. I lock myself away in the secret place of fear. Of doubt.
But in reality, it's not so secret. And I am not alone.
In fact, at those moments when I feel most afraid and most alone,
I am learning to open my eyes, lift my eyes, and
take in all the ways that goodness is showing up in the world and in my life.

Here are a couple of beautiful examples of hope and love and resurrection
right here in my home town.

The Grove is a church I have admired a great deal. The pastor there, Kate Murphy, is one of my pastoral mentors. Look at how they are showing love to their Muslim neighbors, to our Muslim neighbors. In response, the folks from the Muslim community center made dinner for the folks at The Grove last night. Because it was Maundy Thursday, the day on which we remember the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples, because that is also the night on which many churches practice the ritual of foot washing, the folks from the Grove washed the feet of the Muslim people who had brought them dinner. So much beauty and grace, humility and courage, recognition and tenderness. We need more of this kind of welcome in this world at this time. My Colorado based friend, Kathy Escobar, wrote an encouraging and hope-filled blog post suggesting that we all do exactly what happened at the Grove last night: While the bombs drop, keep washing feet.

Here's a story of two young couples, connected by a donated kidney. Facing death, one young man was given the gift of life by another young man. Truly new life. Resurrection. The wife of the young man who received the kidney is a new friend of mine. Funny, courageous, exhausted, hopeful, and eternally grateful for her husband's new kidney.

Tonight, my spiritual heroes, Anthony and Toni Smith, will continue with their reconciliation work in Salisbury, North Carolina. One of their many activities is called "Night Crawlers." Every Friday night, they head out into the streets, together, walking, talking, praying, working and calling for peace in their city. Standing in the way of violence. Offering other options. Most importantly, walking together, both bringing and being peace in their city.

And tomorrow, the We Walk Together Charlotte group that I have been a part of for almost two years is heading out for another walk. If you're in Charlotte, please come join us. Let's walk and talk and get to know our city. Let's share stories of hope and grace, mercy and love. I don't know about you, but on this dark Friday night, on this dark day, I need some good stories and some good company on the road. I suspect you do too.

While I'm walking tomorrow morning, one of my beautiful nieces will be talking - on NPR - about her first album - Hard Won. She has worked so hard and is getting the acknowledgement and support she has always hoped for. Truly hard won. NPR, people!!! How cool is that!!!!

Deep gratitude. Deep breath. Deep sigh.

It's Friday. The end of a week in which our nation expressed our anger about the gas attacks in Syria by dropping bombs on two countries. At least, two. Because there are some people who still seem to believe that violence resolves violence.

The end of a week in which I spent time both alone and with the church family, remembering Peter's denial that he knew Jesus. Remembering Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Remembering the many times I have denied and betrayed Jesus and myself and life itself.

It's Friday. The day we remember what happened to the One many call Lord.
Body broken. Blood shed.
That was then.

This is now.
Bodies still being broken.
Blood still being shed.
Empire. Violence. Executions.
Greed. Thievery. Loss.
Injustice. Despair.
Life taken. Life given.
Hopes dashed. Hearts crushed.
Then and now.

It's Friday. But Sunday is coming.
Resurrection is coming.
New life is coming.
Hope is coming back.
But for now, tonight, darkness has fallen.

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