I was having coffee with one of my friends today, and he noted that I was marking Good Friday.
"Happy Good Friday... or is it Good Happy Friday?" he asked as he tried to figure out what to say to someone like me today.
I mean, what does one say? Is it really a happy occasion to commemorate the day when jealousy, suspicion, greed, pride, anger, fear, resentment, and hatred got the upper hand and resulted in the public execution of God?
My answer is: umm, yeah, actually... this is a "good" day. I don't know about "happy", but it is good.
Good because on this day so many centuries ago, God took every single one of our egocentric "sins"... that laundry list I gave above... absorbed all of it into his physical being as Jesus, and allowed those things to die with him on the cross. Depending on which gospel you read, the thieves crucified on either side of Jesus were either joining in on the taunting, or one of them was asking for redemption because he knew Jesus had not committed any crime besides teaching everyone to love God, love themselves and love their neighbors.
One might think on this day about those people in the world who suffer for love. I'm not suggesting that every LGBT person is a messiah, but each of us is a creation of God; hence each of us has the spirit of God with us. And yet we face discrimination and ridicule... and popular votes... on our lives and love.
I put a challenge at the beginning of Lent to consider ways in which you not merely tolerate those who are different from you, but move to a place of acceptance of the "others" in your life. This was as much a challenge to me as it is to any of the number of you out there reading this blog. How have I done? Better, I think. Not perfect, plenty of room for improvement. But I think God has been chiseling away at the rockiness in my heart, so that I may learn to be more loving and accepting particularly when I find myself at odds with another. I've learned that walking away from those I disagree with is NOT the answer. And I am better able to hold my own space in the face of a bigot, and not respond with the knee-jerk... obscenity-laden way I would have done five or ten years ago.
"It is finished." Indeed, that utterance from Jesus as he died says so much. Fear is finished. Jealousy is finished. Anger is finished. "Tolerance" is finished. Taking the learning of Lent and making it part of every day life: that's the beginning, and the bloom on the Easter lily.