I recently began subscribing to a daily devotional from the Center for Action and Contemplation that is written by Richard Rohr. I have really been enjoying it. Yesterday's reading focused on Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus sharing the Passover (Last Supper) with his disciples and giving them a new command, that they love one another as he has loved them.
In the reading, Rohr explained that when a family celebrated the Passover, they would get the lamb four days ahead of time; just long enough, Rohr explains, for the children to get really attached to it. Then they would slaughter it. (Yes, that was quite intentional.)
He goes on to say that the work of Jesus on the cross is less about the simple mathematics of "substitute him for me" and more about Jesus standing in solidarity with us, showing us how to die to ourselves and live completely to the teachings of God.
Yes, that's right, it's our precious ego that we must crucify; and I guarantee you we are more attached to it than we ever could be to a darling little Passover lamb who steals our hearts before becoming dinner.
Today is Good Friday. It's the day when we contemplate the death of Jesus. Earlier in the day, my husband and I experienced a stations of the cross at our church that the youth director designed. It's also the day when we try to remember that the disciples and those who loved Jesus best didn't have the information we have.
They thought it was game over.
Tomorrow is even worse; well, from their standpoint I mean. Holy Saturday is the "day after." Yes, the day after the worst possible thing their minds could imagine.
We have all had the day after in our lives. And when we are cast into the depths of despair that only the day after can produce, it's hard to remember that this event, this situation, and the pit of hopelessness that it creates in the very depths of our souls, does not have the last word.
I'll quote a friend of mine, JD, who likes to say, "There are no losses, just lessons; no burdens, just blessings." He maintains a unique, upbeat, faithful perspective regardless of what life delivers up. (And let's face it -- none of us is immune to the devastation that life can hand us.)
That expression was a million miles away from the thoughts of those who loved Jesus best on Good Friday. Perhaps that's what makes Easter all the sweeter -- for them some 2,000 years ago and for us, today.