Precious Pilgrim,

It’s Good Friday and busy, busy, busy. Oh, I’ve been so busy. I went and prayed at the Gethsemane-like Chapel at our church at my shift from 6:00 to 7:00, attended the 7:15 service, cleaned up afterwards for a friend, went to Headstart kindergarten from 9:00 to 12:00, rushed to the 12:00 to 3:00 service at our church and took over babysitting my grandson at 3:15.

 

Busy, busy, busy – but was any of this busyness beneficial? Did any of these activities help bring in the Kingdom? Where was Christ in all of this? Where was I?

 

Precious pilgrim, I care too much about today. How does one write about the holiest of days—Good Friday? It was easy to list the activities of the day. If that’s where it all ends, just the shallow schedule of busyness, then all is sham. It would be an affront to our Lord God. Lord, forbid.

 

But why so much time spent in the church, over five hours? Was that really necessary? Even I realize that’s a little much and, of course, I’m not recommending it for all. It was, however, for this year, the right thing for me to do. It was hard. I was tired, for I’d only had a few hours of sleep. I was hungry, for I was fasting. I cannot tell you how tempted I was to go home and eat lunch and take a nap right after Headstart. I had no problem rationalizing the need to leave. I needed the rest and sustenance before resuming the babysitting of my grandson. I cannot tell you how tempted I was to go home and eat lunch and take a nap after the first hour of church. I had no problem rationalizing the need to leave. I needed the rest and the sustenance before resuming the babysitting of my grandson. I cannot tell you how tempted I was to go home and eat lunch and take a nap after the second hour of church. I had no problem, again, rationalizing the need to leave. I needed the rest and sustenance before resuming the babysitting of my grandson. Thank the dear Lord, however, I persevered and made it though the whole three-hour vigil of trying to focus on the three hours our Lord was on the cross.

 

The uncomfortableness of the stay was good. The uncomfortableness of my back was good. The focus of my mind often wandered as we had hymns and meditations and prayers and quiet. That was OK. In this less-than-optimum, worn-down state at this Good Friday’s observance, I was more open to the Lord’s Passion.

 

How does one stay and look in their imagination at the crucifixion? How dare we try to gaze up at that dying Face of Love? Oh, this week has been very “churchy.” We’ve played the scene over as best we could. Of course, our reenactment doesn’t compare to Franco Zepherelli’s movie Jesus of Nazareth or Oberammergau, Germany’s every-ten-year Passion Play reenactment.

 

Really, that doesn’t matter. It’s not the play we’re after, but rather the moment of truth – when Love died for love so that we might become love once more. It’s an exquisite, excruciating Reality. It is the Reality from which all else should flow.

 

My friend Mary said her priest referred to the Lenten Season as the Christian’s spring cleaning. I like that. Our minister referred this morning to it being the time when a wooden cross is planted in our hearts. I like that.

 

You see, I have a frozen heart. Precious Pilgrim, do you? It’s soft in some spots. Is yours? I yearn for a total melt down, a total softening. Do you? There is nothing I can do, nothing we can do, only Christ and His Love can. I can persevere. We can persevere. I can seek His Face in humility each and every day. You can seek His Face in humility each and every day. I can ask for the planting of that Cross of Love within me. You can ask for the planting of that Cross of Love within you. I yearn, yes, yearn to become what He intended. Precious Pilgrim, do you also yearn? It’s not about me and what I do, or about you and what you do, but rather about our Lord Jesus Christ and what He did and what His Holy Spirit is doing right now in each one of us.

 

I love that in our tradition, we have Lent as a set-apart season where we are called to come closer to the cross and to gaze upon His Face, Our Lord Jesus’ Face. It is, as I said, exquisitely excruciating to look upon, for we are those, in so many ways, that crucify Him daily. We can only dare to look because He calls us to His gaze, to His embrace, to His heart.

 

Today I persevered. In my imagination, I sat at the Cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Tomorrow and the next and the next – until all the days of the earthly life for me are gone, may I daily sit at that Cross and allow Love to love so that I can love.

 

Precious Pilgrim, this is also my prayer for you. Lord, melt our hearts down, soften them as only You can. And may we persevere, persevere, persevere…Amen.

 

And a blessed Good Friday to you, Precious Pilgrim. Do you feel the Cross of Love being planted in your heart, too?