The old Negro spiritual about the crucifixion includes the phrase, “…sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…”. For a lot of years I would take the afternoon off to go to church for several hours on Good Friday, to reflect, pray, and participate in the service.
These days my life is a lot more complicated, and discretionary time is at a premium. The demands of three little kids and two aging parents means that today, though I’ve got the whole day off, I’ll be attending to bills, taxes, laundry, and other chores rather than sitting in a pew this afternoon.
However, the busy day won’t stop me from pausing this afternoon to reflect about what happened some two thousand years ago, when the Jewish leadership in occupied Israel convinced their Roman overlords to kill a lowly carpenter by hanging him on a cross for speaking out to much, teaching revolutionary ideas, somehow representing God.
The busy day didn’t stop me from looking at the homeless guy I saw in the park while I was walking the dogs this morning, and thinking, “What can I do to help that guy, or someone else like him?”
The busy day won’t stop me from thinking about the fundamental teachings that Jesus brought to the world. Not really new ideas, but certainly applied in new ways. Love one another. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. Help those in need. Consider your place in the world humbly, and be filled with gratitude.
For me the Easter Triduum boils down to the teachings that Jesus gave us, the extreme measures he took to make those teachings real, and the hope that we can find in the darkest hour. It’s that hope we should live with, and share with others, every single day. It’s that love we should nurture within ourselves, and give witness to everyone around us: friends, family, children, strangers, co-workers, parents.
On this day remember what it means to give of yourself completely, without concern for reward or outcome, save knowing you’ve given all you have to make life better for those you love, those around you. And when you realize you’ve done so, when you pause to reflect on your efforts, it might just cause you to tremble a little, in awe of love you feel as a result. And that’s why they call this Friday GOOD.