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If you are like me, then, the concept of Good Friday as a “holiday” is a strange event. It’s not as if I am standing in the historical moment of Jesus’ death. I am removed from the brutality. It’s difficult to feel the weight of loss at a funeral when there is no body and the departed is someone you have only met in a brief summary of his life. Even if I claim that I “know” Jesus as savior, I can only speak of Spirit, not of the man. Today, I am confronted with the funeral of a man I have not met in the flesh. This is a somber, but detached affair. Hopefully my appropriately sad face during a church service should fulfill my Holy Week duties.
Let’s back up a moment. Good Friday. Good? Remembering today as “good” seems we are disabling ourselves from truly feeling the darkness of the cross. When I hear someone call today as good, I can gloss over the pain of death to the promise of resurrection. [We might argue the English “good” is a rather banal descriptor even if we are only focused on Easter morning.] Who wants to focus on a dark, depressing day? Who wants to remember pain of death without a qualifying ‘but only for three days’? It would be a mistake to ignore Good Friday. Today we should mourn. Today we should feel the godlessness of Calvary.
We are not simply attending the memorial of a distant funeral. We are standing in the grief of our own crucifixion--our own funeral--if we truly believe our path follows Jesus. Death in the Greek θάνατος [read: thanatos] is translated three different ways:
1. physical deadness
2. spiritual deadness
3. end of breath
Years of sermons have jaundiced my eyes and ears to various exegesis of how we share in the physical and spiritual death of the cross. So, let’s pass over those uses of the word. Focus instead on “end of breath”. In the context of the Bible, “breath” was understood as the life force of the body. Sometimes death was interpreted as “running out of” breath. A bit like a battery running out of power.
Ever had someone compare you to the Energizer Bunny? [That’s right I just carried the pink, sunglass wearing robot into a funeral. Maybe he’ll bring some Cadbury eggs with him...] That damnable robot is relatable when we have to carry on during chaotic times in our lives. Eventually though, all that going and going and going and going ends. You might feel like it is hard to breathe under the stress and load you have to drag behind you. It might even feel like you are breathing your last breath. And you might be. In fact, this week, I felt a slow death under a load of circumstances far beyond any single person’s control. Every breath is hard to make. I understand what death means as a loss of breath.
Every exhale leaks a little bit of myself and I find myself horribly alone in the godlessness of the circumstances. Here at last, I understand what is the dark humor in naming this day “good” Friday.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?! -Jesus of Nazareth
By Tina Mixon. April 3, 2015
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.