Growing up, I never quite understood "Good Friday." I simply remember seeing it on the calendar, having already been type-setted in by the manufacturers. I recall this being a "holiday" when I was really young and by that I simply mean that I got the day off from school. As I grew up, and times began to change culturally, this was no longer a holiday marked by getting out of class, even though the calendar companies continued to print the words "Good Friday."
And all throughout, I went to church.
When I was an adult and ventured off to Vancouver, to formally study Christian studies and culture at graduate college, I began to learn otherwise. There cannot be an Easter without a Good Friday.
So, what is "good" about it?
To be perfectly honest, I am still learning. Each year I mark it (and it's been about 11 now), I grow deeper in my experience and knowledge of it. Below is a brief list of things I have come to know.
For starters, I have come to understand that Good Friday (and Easter) is Love Winning Over All.
Over rejection and over death.
Over misunderstanding. Over despair.
Secondly, I have come to experience Jesus Christ of Nazareth as Love Embodied.
As God Incarnate.
As the Fullness of Grace Divine.
As the Suffering Servant (though, the word "suffering" I feel has been so misunderstood within my Christian culture that I don't believe we can hear her resonances the way Christ experienced them. Although there are some that do.)
Thirdly, Love truly is a Way.
A Third Way of existence.
It does not dominate nor blame.
It is a posture to operate out from.
Not a place to drive with our cars,
nor a destination to be reached with our trains.
But a different kind of place.
It is space and time in a new subversive dimension.
Fourthly, we cannot (fully) live out from this place,
unless we love ourselves first.
A seeming predicament and irony for my Christian culture that says, "Deny the self if you really want to follow Jesus!"
Before we can fully love our neighbor,
we must remember how to first love ourselves.
The Jewish Laws and Prophets are summed up as "Love your neighbor as yourself"
and Jesus Christ, whom I believe is indeed the Messiah, distills all of the ways of living into that too: Love your neighbor as yourself, just as I have loved you.
Fifthly, I believe there is an inherent problem though, and the center of gravity does not lie in not loving our neighbor, though I admit it can readily appear that way. The issue at stake is that we are loving our neighbor as ourselves, or in other words, we are not loving ourselves and therefore, are incapable of loving another. There are ways we have each been shaped.
Shaped from family, shaped from ourselves, shaped from generations of "life" handed down to us through uncritiqued "living." We may be warped and wounded in different ways, and unless these ways are examined and healed from, we will continue to unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) live out from those places of dysfunction, that is, until we decide not to.
Sixthly, Christ loves period. He loves when do not know our ways. He loves when we decide to know our ways and desire change. He helps us. We cannot, though, receive his love when we knowingly know about our warpedness and continue to live in this reality. This is antithetical to Love. Love is not manipulated or controlled. Love is. I believe the Universal Song, Angels, and Heavens Sing when we decide to live and "fill out" our beings, joining them in the fullest sense (or at least starting that journey!) of Living. All of this, begins with the notion that we are loveable, that we are loved, and that we choose love.
Sixthly (and a half), the problem, as I see it, is that there is total Light in Love and we do such a great job at hiding. Fully exposed is incredibly vulnerable. In fact, I wonder if we could really exist on our own without some sort of hiding (truly on our own). Our compulsions and our built-up identities inherently dissolve with this kind of Light. God's Light is So Bright and Pure it inherently annihilates us. (Perhaps this is why even Moses (the great man he was) was encouraged by Yahweh to look away when God's presence was passing him.)
And seventhly, and thankfully, I have come to understand this about the Friday before Easter: Christ is Embodied Grace. Grace where we aren't annihilated when encountering this Great Light. The I Am of the Universe and of Existence. The Great Sacrifice that shows the world how it operates: a scape-goating, sacrifical system (or in other words, the need to pin blame on someone to appease another or usually, a crowd).
Hence, eighthly, I am beginning to see that this is why perhaps there is a "Good" before the Friday before Easter. While it was unexpected 2,000 years ago that this historical figure would blast through death a few days after being fully Rejected, Pierced, and Left-to-Hang, it is truly remarkable that there is a different way to live out from: a place not of blame, not of dominance. Not one of treating another the way you are treated, but insight into how the world operates, and a hope to press on and continue to Love when love is so vacant, only death surrounds.