I want to write of joy. Winter sunshine promising spring. Green bulbs emerging through soggy brown leaves. Crocuses now, tulips later. But the Lenten readings keep foreshadowing Good Friday. Stories of betrayal and violence.
Last night we began our meeting with the tale of Joseph. His father’s favor and his brothers’ jealousy. Their shepherding left something to be desired. How they hated the one who was both like them and different. Jesus, our brother- like us, and yet so different. The favor of the Father resting so clearly on him. Leaders hate to be called out for poor shepherding of the flock in their charge. What is the price of a life? Twenty pieces of silver? Thirty?
I am fascinated by the shift from private animosity to public betrayal. Selling Joseph to a traveling caravan for slavery in Egypt. Turning Jesus over to Roman authorities for humiliation and execution. Jesus’ death was not a private sacrifice in the sanctity of the church. He was publicly condemned as a criminal, an enemy of the state, his suffering on display for all to see. His mother’s mourning a spectacle.
Where do we mourn? How do we come alongside those who have lost a loved one to violence? Jesus touched those who were suffering every day. But on Good Friday, he allowed himself to become the victim of violence, taking on our suffering intimately, for all to see.
Unlike Jesus’ public sacrifice, our mourning on Good Friday is usually private, inside church walls. Individually focused on our own sin, rather than outwardly focused on the suffering of others. But sometimes we are called to take to the streets. To mourn publicly the violence with which we are often complicit. What better day than Good Friday to acknowledge the cost of violence- in our hearts, our churches, our communities, our country, our world?
So we prepare. To acknowledge publicly the price that is paid. But this mourning will not last forever. There is hope. Not in death, but in resurrection. That what was meant for harm, God can transform into deliverance. As in Psalm 42 & 43, we pray:
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
Because I will again give him thanks,
my saving presence and my God.