“Friday” came on a Tuesday this week, showing up in a place called Belgium.
And when “Friday” shows up, it always wants to have the final say. Its message is one of pain and suffering and grief, which is why the church must not let that Belgium “Friday”—or any “Friday”—speak the final word
We have a defiant word to proclaim in the face of every “Friday.”
That phrase springs from the church’s trust in what God has power to do. With death-defeating strength, the God of life can turn even the worst “Friday” upside down, just as God did in raising Jesus on the third day–on Sunday–the day that is surely coming.
While the truth of that story runs deep in my veins, I also know the companion truth.
“Fridays” still sting.
And “Fridays” keep showing up in all the places we cherish.
When someone we love dies…when a child faces surgery…when a family struggles to pay the bills…when mental illness holds a friend or spouse or child in its grip… “Friday” keeps showing up. And “Friday” torments people relentlessly, evoking a world where death seems to have the final word, where nothing seems to be happening, where even our most fervent prayers seem pointless or to go unheard.
And we go silent.
We leave our defiant proclamation that “Sunday’s coming” unspoken, as despair silences us by whispering to us in the face of some “Friday” that this is reality; that this is all there is; that the final word has now been spoken. “And don’t forget,” “Friday” hisses, “my final word is a damning word of grief and pain and loss.”
And that’s why we must not give “Friday” the final word.
Looking back to the first Easter weekend holds the key to finding our voice. Thinking about that first Friday-Saturday-Sunday cycle reminds us of everything “Friday” wants us to forget.
Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
Some have described it as the day that human hope died. Not only was Jesus’ body sealed away in the tomb, so were the hopes and dreams of countless followers who had believed that Jesus was the promised one of God. They had believed that Jesus was the one who would set things right, the one who would bring justice and wholeness and peace. And when he died, hope died with him.
It was as if everything crashed down upon those first followers of Jesus. When they woke up on Saturday, then, it was the day after the worst that could have happened. They had no way of knowing what Sunday would hold. They were left with the reality that “Friday” had done its worst, and death had stolen everything they had believed about what God was up to in Jesus.
But then came Sunday.
If Friday was the worst day, Sunday was the best.
It was the day when hope was reborn–when the followers of Jesus sensed that God could overturn anything–even death–and that the world was now teeming with life and possibility.
Saturday, then, became not just the day after the worst day that could have happened. It also became the day before the best day. No longer seen as a day when nothing happened, Saturday became the day of expectant waiting for God’s glorious Sunday to come.
That first Holy Week calls to us during this Holy Week when “Friday” showed up on a Tuesday in Belgium.
It calls to us, saying, “Death is not the final word! ‘Friday’ is not the last voice to speak.”
Even though “Friday” breaks in with agonizing power, it is not the last day. And though it may seem as if we are enduring some long Saturday when nothing is happening, God is even now at work, destroying the grave’s terror and seeking to give life.
And because God is at work, we will stare into the abyss of every “Friday” and rebuke its terror with a resounding message of hope.