There’s nothing like sleeping in a tent to make you appreciate your house and your bed! There’s nothing like travel to make you treasure home. Every year our family takes a road trip to visit national parks across the country. On those trips, we’ve made some of our best memories together. It is always sad when the trip comes to an end. However, we never appreciate our home and our beds more than when coming home from a long trip.
The common comforts of home — running water at the turn of a handle, light at the flick of a switch, flushing toilets, cold food without constantly filling a cooler with ice — all seem spectacularly wonderful after two weeks of camping, motels, and hours upon hours in the car.
Good Friday works a bit like that in the Christian life. On Good Friday at Christ Community, we remember vividly in our Tenebrae style Good Friday services the darkness -— literal and figurative — of Jesus’ death on the cross. And it is profoundly uncomfortable. Yet, it is the discomfort of Good Friday that helps us treasure the comfort of the gospel. It is for this reason that this service has become a favorite of so many.
Good Friday is a trip into the wilderness of Jesus’ death so that we might treasure our home in Jesus’ resurrection life all the more. This once-a-year trip into the grief of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin helps thaw our hearts. Our hearts can so easily and quickly grow cold to the joy of the hope we have in the gospel.
Poet Christina Rossetti felt this coldness in her own heart. In response, she penned the poem “Good Friday.” Published in 1866 as part of the collection The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems, she describes herself as a stone instead of a sheep and laments how she among all God’s creation is unmoved by the cross. Take a moment to reflect on her words. (Read them aloud if you can.)
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
On Good Friday we grieve, not without hope, but so that we may treasure the hope we have! We grieve so that we may be sheep, not stones. We grieve so that our stony hearts might melt. We grieve so that when we encounter the stone rolled away on Easter morning, our hearts may come alive with joy.