Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Reflections

When I was growing up, Easter (and Christmas) was always a big holiday for our family, but Good Friday tended to be less of a concern. I suppose it stemmed from the fact that we saved religion for Sundays, or perhaps it was because we were Quaker and Good Friday is what those "other" sacrament-based religions did. For whatever reason, it wasn't until recently that Good Friday became a serious occasion for me.

Now, I'm not hear to discuss the deviations from the Jewish calendar and the Roman calendar, the variants on the day passover was observed according to the synoptics vs. John, or any other discussion on whether or not today, Good Friday, is exactly the day of the year Christ was crucified. It's not really about that. It's about setting aside a minimum of one day out of the year on which to commemorate what Christ did for us on the cross. We celebrate this occasion publicly so that others may see, and perhaps learn about this strange tradition, and hopefully ask us, "what's so special about today?"

God intends for us to use such commemorated events as a witness to His glory. "In the future, when your son asks you, 'What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?' tell him: 'We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand'" (Deut. 6:20-21). The practices that seemed odd to foreigners in Israel opened the door for God's people to tell about His mighty deliverance, His mercy, and His love.

Likewise, I pray that someone asks me today, "What's so 'good' about Good Friday?" There's quite a story to tell. It's a story of God's deliverance from slavery we didn't even know we were in. His mercy to withdraw wrath we still can't even comprehend. And His love to do so while we were far from deserving it, or even desiring it.

So, as Christians, I urge you to not dismiss the significance and the holiness of a holiday such as this. There is a growing sentiment that the holiday itself is unimportant, and we should instead commemorate Christ's death every day, not just one. Well, there is honest intentions, I believe, in this teaching. Yet, it does defy what God decreed should be an effective and honoring method for sharing His truth with those who might not know Him yet.

Have a blessed Good Friday.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A meaningless life...

When I was a teenager, I went to a national conference for teens in the Quaker denomination. For a small-town farm boy, this was was quite an eye-opening experience. It was there that I had my first encounter with a theologian who actually believed that Christ was merely a "good moral teacher."

"How silly!" I thought. Hoping to show him his error, my simple response was, "So, then how do you get to Heaven?" This was not a difficult obstacle for his logic, as he explained that he did not believe in a heaven, nor a hell, but merely "worm food" as he so aptly put it. Puzzled, I asked one more question. "So, why do you obey the 'moral teachings' of Jesus at all?"

Nearly three thousand years ago, a wise teacher and king in the house of David had pondered the same question. I would encourage you this week to read through the book of Ecclesiastes and consider how meaningless our lives would be—our jobs, our relationships, even our religion—if it were not for the truth of the very last verses, 12:13-14. Praise God for the reward He has promised us all.

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