Rediscovering Good Friday: Reflections from the Field

My heart bears the marks. A seared conscience will always come calling again. And if these walls around me could speak, their holes would cry out just like the cavernous scars wrought on this Day in time immemorial. Easter weekend always conjures up time and space for reverent ruminations.

Today, I find myself surrounded by expectations of bunnies, colored eggs and their hidings, Spring pictures, and family picnics. One quick trip to the store yields anxiety about dresses and shoes and all the things “needed” for Easter to be a fun family event. I see it in the children’s Storybook Bibles, the cutesy DVD’s, and the perfunctory activities that I feel compelled to do with my own kids. This is our only Easter in America, after all.

Yet, none of these expectations or customs existed for me overseas. Living in a land without Gospel access brings a concentrated convergence on the staunchest of doctrines. There’s something about sitting in a rigid chair in an arid apartment side by side with a smattering of other Christians. Isolated among the untold millions, devoid of the trappings of a neat and orderly Easter experience, I was left with the gruesome potency of a Bloodied Cross.

Prior to living overseas, I had been cautioned to ease my kids into the idea of the Suffering Servant. Children’s Bibles and Resurrection Eggs, Veggie Tales DVD’s, and the like all helped to convey the Story, yet in an easy-to-tell, easy-to-understand, keep-it-clean sort of method.

But this I discovered in my global point of reference: Real life and the celebrations of Abundant Life appear divergent when lived underneath the shadow of a minaret rather than under the microscopic glow of a pristine steeple. Perhaps it’s when our cultural traditions are stripped away, layer by layer, that we are finally able to zero in on the depths of Truth.

With my small children perched precariously next to me, I can recall how the Story erupted in violent and mature waves last year in Southern Asia. This was certainly not a kid-friendly version of our King’s Crucifixion. What was normally sanitized was now in vivid color in the purview of my kids. Scenes from The Passion of the Christ loomed large as we sat in the uncomfortable reality of the final three hours of Christ on His Cross, the very cross I should have carried.

For the next several hours, my family and I sat in grieved solidarity with our Southern Asian friends. There was a knowing, a pure sadness over the implications of Love So Amazing. And we wept; my young children included.

I rediscovered Good Friday in a land without Easter bunnies and baskets. In a land without access to the Truth that sets the prisoner free, I clung. I clung to that Old Rugged Cross, praying in earnest for the millions who still haven’t heard. I wept at the foot of my Beloved’s Cross so that I can dance later at His Empty Tomb. With all of my heart I believe that I won’t be dancing alone.

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