Sr. Wantabee was not in her home church for the Good Friday service. Visiting different places with different perspectives always opens her thinking a bit wider. The church was darkened as expected. The focus was on the crucifixion as expected. The music was excellent. Tall candles flickered. Tastefully done art framed the front area. The homily focused on the cry of Christ from the cross found in Luke, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The pastor pointed out that Christ had always addressed God as “Father” and so addressing him as “God,” was a change of orientation. Perhaps this was the point where Christ most deeply felt the weight of our sins that separate us from God. Interesting. Christ’s inability to experience the face of God insured for us the certainty that God’s face will always be turned toward us! Sr. Wantabee struggled inside. Must the God of Justice swallow up the God of Love? Can they not co-exist? How can she put that together and deal with the horrible sense of guilt that her misbehavior, her sin, killed someone?
This morning the during her readings, she reflected again on last night. Christ looked around on a reality in which he could not find the face of God and gave up the spirit, leaped into death. The thought came that maybe those are not two unrelated events like I ate my toast and then I drank my coffee. Maybe the ability to step into death, not humanly sensing the presence of God, was the ultimate leap of faith in the presence of God, holding and supporting His life. He was right. The proof, the resurrection. The scene stands on the opposite end of the spectrum of Psalm 23, “yea tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, though art with me, they rod and they staff they comfort me” The Psalmist talks about the total awareness of God’s comforting presence even in the midst of death. Christ’s experience speaks to a world devoid of the a sense of God and stepping into death, in faith that God is there, and finding resurrection.
The patient on Tuesday who had struggled with a terminal disease for 19 years, lay with a body overwhelmed with infection, and made the decision with his family that the journey was over and he was ready to die. No heroic methods to prolong a terminal situation. And yet in death he struggled, fighting to breath, committed to dying, not yet able to “leap.” Perhaps Christ showed us that the “leap” is not about satisfying an angry God offended by our sin, but a leap of faith into the arms of a loving God who longs to be with us for eternity. It is a mystery for Sr. Wantabee, but this morning the mystery felt a bit warmer.