Good Friday Thoughts

I preached last night, and though I am truly a resurrection girl, I am finding the importance of slowing down to sit in the dying. Here are my thoughts for Good Friday 2018.

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

22 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,

    and by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy,

    enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel.

4 In you our fathers trusted;

    they trusted, and you delivered them.

5 To you they cried and were rescued;

    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,

    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;

    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;

    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;

    you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

10 On you was I cast from my birth,

    and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Be not far from me,

    for trouble is near,

    and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me;

    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13 they open wide their mouths at me,

    like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,

    and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax;

    it is melted within my breast;

15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,

    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;

    a company of evildoers encircles me;

they have pierced my hands and feet[b]—

17 I can count all my bones—

they stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my garments among them,

    and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!

    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

20 Deliver my soul from the sword,

    my precious life from the power of the dog!

21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!

You have rescued[c] me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;

    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!

    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,

    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or abhorred

    the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

    but has heard, when he cried to him.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? This is a line you would expect to hear on Good Friday. This is a thing Jesus said from the cross. But this is a word we have learned intuitively we are not supposed to utter. We are only supposed to quote. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus says that. We don’t say that. Even if it feels like it, even if we think it, we don’t say it out loud. Good Christians don’t mention that they feel God-forsaken.

But what if we did?

Because, as it turns out Jesus was not the first to cry out to God in this way. Jesus is quoting someone to. According to our traditions Jesus is crying out to God just as David did before him.

While this psalm certainly points prophetically to the experience of Jesus on the cross, it is written in the midst of David’s life some 1000 years before. And if I am honest, and oh Lord do I not want to be, in my darkest moments I have cried out to a God, who I was sure had forsaken me. I have been sure that my circumstances were God-forsaken, that I was alone.

And those of us who have been there know how dark, scary, and hopeless that place is, the place where we are crying out that God has forsaken us. And when there is nothing else to offer to ourselves or our loved ones we can offer this. You are not alone. Me too. David too. Jesus too. We too have cried out that God has forsaken us.

For most of us, our God forsaken moments show up in the darkest corners of our lives, where no one else sees or enters or even knows about. Ones we do not tell anyone else about. But not Jesus. At the moment of deepest despair Jesus is splayed on the cross, a spectacle of suffering that the Empire might prove once and for all that they are in charge. The empire believed that the humanity of Jesus was the place he could be pierced, and they were right. They jabbed him in the side and humiliated him. They ripped his clothes off of him and raffled them off. The empire was not just seeking to get rid of Jesus, but to make a mockery of him, to hold his body up to the crowds as a reminder of just what they might have coming to them.

And you know what? They did make an example of Jesus.

I am poured out like water,

    and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax;

    it is melted within my breast;

15 my strength is dried up like a pot shard,

    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

    you lay me in the dust of death.

Jesus, the living water, was poured out, in front us, because of us, for us, and with us. Jesus cries out forsaken and completely forsaken for us, like water. Like living water, poured out for us.

Jesus, who sits at the well and proclaims to the thirsty woman that he is the living water that will never run out, is nailed to a cross and poured out for us. And just like water that is poured onto the ground, the living water is always drawn to the lowest points. The tiniest cracks, the deepest crevices, the water runs into the places that are our deepest wounds. The places of suffering are not the places we need to handle before we come to Jesus, the places of suffering are where we find Jesus, where Jesus already is.

On the cross, Jesus, the living water is poured out before us and just like water that starts in the sky, and the mountains and the springs that start rivers, water always eventually finds the oceans, because Jesus always moves to the lowest point. Jesus always meets us in our lowest point, because Jesus took on our lowest point was poured out, dried up, heart melted like wax. On the cross Jesus took on our suffering, joined us in solidarity, saved us from our sin, ourselves, redeemed our brokenness

We worship a crucified savior, one who showed himself as deeply human, pierced and mortified on a cross. And we have been asked to join him there. Because he joins us there, meets us like water rushes into our lowest points, whispers to us me too. I too have been humiliated. I too have been abandoned, I too have been totally sure that I was God forsaken. Me too.

Can I tell you that this solidarity seems like such a small thing when it is all I have to offer my suffering friends? Can I tell you that it feels impossibly small to offer solidarity to my friends who I have no answers for? They are facing terrible things, illness, poverty, injustice, a system that is stacked against them as they fight for their lives and the lives of their children. How do you offer solidarity when there is so much more that needs to be done, and nothing else that you are in control of?

Are you willing to be poured out for those? If we say we are Christians are we willing to follow Jesus to the cross, to offer our literal bodies in solidarity for our neighbors and friends who are suffering, who are being persecuted, who are dying at the hands of the empire? Are we willing to stand next to those we claim to love and advocate for and cry out with them WHY HAS GOD FORSAKEN THEM? To feel dry as a piece of broken pottery in the desert, to feel our heart melt with the injustice of it all?

Why would we do that? Why would we not protect those pieces of humanity with everything we’ve got and say look I am sorry you are having those problems but we need to protect ourselves here. We need to hedge our bets and hide our weak points. We need our humanity not on display. The empire takes the humanity of Jesus attempts to weaponize it, to prove to us that Jesus was not who he said he was, but instead Jesus calls from the cross that he is with us! That he is poured out and will meet us, in our suffering, in our agony, in our death.

The empire says look at how God has forsaken Jesus, and Jesus cries out YES! Me too! Though he did not have to, Jesus claims solidarity with the battered and broken bits of humanity, the lowest point we are trying desperately to avoid is exactly where the living water meets us.

For he has not despised or abhorred

    the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

    but has heard, when he cried to him.

The world may ask us to hide our wounds, to tidy up our messes, and pull a curtain over our dark places, but Jesus does not. Jesus meets us there. He does not abhor the affliction or the afflicted. He does not hide his face from our suffering. He has heard us when we cry.

And those are the places we can meet Jesus. On the cross Jesus met us in all of our suffering, in all of our mess, even the places we are sure God has forsaken

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