Everyone loves Christmas. Trees, lights, presents, songs, parties, and meals make Christmas a very special time every winter. But for Christians, Christmas is really only significant in light of Easter. The manger reflects its glory only in the witness of the empty tomb.
In 2006, Diane Cameron wrote an article in USA Today, which I saved. Here is a portion of the article, entitled, “We are Easter People.”
“One of the lowest points in my life occurred years ago when I was living in Washington, D.C., at Easter time. My older sister had recently died and both of my brothers were seriously ill; my best friend was leaving town, and on top of that I was questioning my work. In my journal that April I wrote, ‘Am I depressed?’ When I read those pages now I laugh and shake my head. ‘Depressed?’ That I even had to ask. In that long year I thought I’d never laugh again, just as I thought I’d never again feel love, the joy of easy friendship, or the satisfaction of good work.
“I went to church that Easter out of both habit and desperation. I had grown up in a church-going family. It was what we did. And so to honor the family that I was losing I went. Easter, after all, is the centerpiece for Christians, honoring and recalling Christ’s triumph over death.
“I chose a big downtown church for Easter services — one with hundreds in the congregation — not daring to visit a smaller church where I might have to speak to people or be embarrassed by my own tears. I wanted the paradoxical safety and anonymity of being in a crowd.
“The minister that Easter Sunday said many things that I don’t remember, but one sentence has stayed with me all these years. He said, ‘We live in a Good Friday world.’
“That I understood. A Good Friday world is a world full of suffering, questioning, unfairness, trouble, mistakes, hurts, losses and grief. Good Friday in the Christian faith is the day Christians commemorate Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. So that certainly made sense to me at that difficult time in my life.
"'But,' he continued, 'we are Easter people.' Those words stopped me cold. I was stunned to be reminded that painful morning that there was something other than what I was feeling.”
This is an important message to remember as we prepare for Easter Day. We do indeed live in a Good Friday world of disappointment, pain, and suffering. And it can become very easy just to stop there. But when we do, we also stop just short of healing and the resurrection of our life.
For some folks, their life may seem like a never-ended Friday of Crucifixion. Health problems, relationships dissolving, and financial worries can seem interminable an unsolvable. But they do end, and they end with the power of God — the same power that raised Jesus from the grave.
We all have access to God’s awesome power. If you feel stuck in Good Friday, visit your local church this Sunday and let the greatest true story ever told penetrate your soul. Let God strengthen you through your difficulties so you can learn to live through trust in Him.
Yes, it may feel like Good Friday, but Easter Sunday is coming!
The Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi, installed member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, is pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, Springfield.