For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2
As our long Lenten journey nears its end and the “Alleluia” of Easter and resurrection is close at hand, we come to a day that bears in its name the paradox and mystery that is at the heart of our faith: Good Friday. Even now, from our vantage point in time and in the knowledge of how the days of Lent give way to Easter joy, it is strange to call this day “good.” Adding to the strangeness is the challenge of these days we are living in. What does it mean to remember a shared story and history when we cannot share in gathering together? How do we gather hearts and souls to remember when we cannot gather physically together?
We are living through a Lent that, perhaps more than any other, has kept before us how strange these days are. But the prophet Isaiah reminds us that living as a people of paradox, in a time of paradox, is nothing new.
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2)
He was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people . . . They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:8-9)
It is, indeed, a strange day to call “good.” A day when we remember sacrifice in the face of seemingly overwhelming strength. A day when it feels we are moving more toward darkness when we so desperately look for light. A day that emphasizes for all of us that without death, there can be no resurrection. It seems we are left with no choice but to embrace the paradox of the cross and the mystery of the grave.
But we will not be left in the darkness forever. Thanks be to God, the prophetic word continues. Out of his anguish, he shall see light . . . the righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous. (Isaiah 53:11).
Friends, in these last days of Lent, as shadows lengthen and darkness surrounds, hold to the promise of light breaking through.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
Life is always sacred to you.
Thou shalt not kill,
makes all life sacred to us.
Blood poured out,
even a sinner’s,
always cried out to God. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To become aware this week:
Discover ministries already in place and find churches/organizations already serving the Hispanic community.
To cultivate growth this week:
Collaborate with a local immigrant organization to host a community event that offers learning, exposure, and growth in cultural competencies.
To advocate this week:
Mobilize neighboring congregations to respond to the harsh actions seen in our communities.
Jay Locklear is a communicator for North Carolina Conference Disaster Ministries.