“We glory in your cross, O Lord, and praise and glorify your holy resurrection; for by virtue of your cross joy has come to the whole world.
May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance, and come to us.
Let your ways be known upon earth,your saving health among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
We glory in your cross, O Lord, and praise and glorify your holy resurrection; for by virtue of your cross joy has come to the whole world.”
(From the Proper Liturgy for Good Friday, The Book of Common Prayer, p.281)
I do not believe in magic. But there have certainly been times in my life when I have hoped for it – just a little mojo to ease the pain, fix the problem, put me back on top, and re-order the world according to my desires.
I would like to twitch my nose and undo the past, take back words, and re-do what has been done. Sometimes I want to rub the magic genie lamp and bring a friend back, restore a relationship, break an addiction, or end a disease. I have wanted to snap my finger, say “abracadabra,” and just fix it – whatever “it” might be.
More often than not my wish for magic comes during a time of pain and powerlessness, a place in which life seems out of control and I have no way to change that.
The cross of Good Friday, however, reminds us that there is no magic. Not for us. And not for Jesus. Jesus will not survive the cross but he will live. There is no magic – there is only God.
God does not remove the suffering, losses, and tragedies of our life. Instead God enters into them. The difficulty of this day is that we too often misunderstand the scandal of the cross as being about sacrifice, suffering, blood, loss. Those are realities of this world, but they are not the scandal of the cross.
The scandal of the cross is that God would become human, that God would live with us, that God would enter into the tragedies of our world, that God would suffer with us, that God would die with us, that God would stand with us shoulder-to-shoulder and never leave. The scandal of the cross is that in spite of our failures, wrongs, and the wrongdoings of our world, God loves us to death.
The cross does not make our problems and difficulties disappear. But they now appear differently. Seen through the lens of the cross suffering is the place of divine compassion, surrender the place of divine victory, powerlessness the place of divine strength, and death the place of divine life.
How does this happen? I do not know. Why does this happen? Love. It is all for love’s sake.