Our culture has become adept at avoiding darkness.
Electric lights make it possible to never be truly in the dark –
indeed, the lights in our city make it almost impossible to experience real darkness.
We can dull our pain with medicine or other drugs,
or comfort ourselves with sugary, salty food .
We can distract ourselves with myriad different kinds of entertainment.
We know many ways to try to escape the darkness,
both external and internal, which threatens our peace and well-being.
This day strips away the distractions and brings us face to face with the darkness.
Today is the day in our Christian calendar when it seems that darkness has won.
Not only was Jesus killed –
he was mocked, tortured, humiliated, and died a terrible death.
There is real evil in the world, and on this day we are brought fully into the dark place of human evil.
Evil which can betray innocence and mock goodness.
Evil which can abduct a young woman and well her into prostitution.
Evil which can bully a young gay man to the point of suicide.
Evil which can make a person ease their own pain by tormenting someone else.
On this day we face the evil which can see the love of God embodied
and nail it to a cross.
And we come face to face with the truth that darkness lives also in us.
We hurt the people we love most.
We cheat, or lie, maybe just a little, just to ease our way a little bit.
We do what we do not want to do –
and what we know we ought to do is often left undone.
Good Friday is the day that brings us fully into the darkness which exists
both in the world and in ourselves.
And it holds us here.
For three hours, while Jesus dies.
For three days, while Jesus lays in the tomb.
So why on earth do we call this day Good Friday?
We call this day good because it is a day which strips away our distractions and illusions.
While it appears that darkness is complete and the light defeated –
what is really defeated is us.
Our attempts to do it ourselves.
Our certainty that we can be good enough, try hard enough,
to make it all right –
or at least run fast enough to escape the darkness.
This is the day we look at Jesus on the cross,
and know that our human efforts have failed.
We can’t fix this.
We can’t banish the darkness.
We are left with emptiness and grief,
and our hearts break.
But the story is not over.
We need to come to this place in our faith because we all visit this place in our lives.
Suffering is real.
Failure and sin are real.
Despair is real.
All around us, in our homes, our city, our world,
people are living in darkness and longing for light.
We need our hearts to break –
to break open.
We need out hearts to break open so that they can be filled by the only one
who can carry us through the darkness of death and back into the light –
Jesus, our Lord, whose love took him to death a cross – and beyond.
Jesus, break our hearts open today,
that your light and love may pour in.