Good Friday Meditation
“A Suffering God”
German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who spent his last days in a German concentration camp, asserted that only a suffering God can save. Surely his words come alive as we reflect on the meaning of Good Friday. Jesus, God’s beloved child, is abandoned, beaten, and crucified by those he sought to save and heal. He came to bring light, yet some, especially the powerful, preferred darkness, and by their acts, crucified the one who loved them.
The spiritual asks, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” and answers “yes,” not based on our physical presence at the trial and crucifixion, but our own turning away from God and bringing suffering to ourselves, those we love, and the world….and also to God. But, more than that, the spiritual proclaims that God is there – Christ is there in our suffering – our life challenges, our joys, and sorrows matter to God. God feels our pain, and heals us by sharing in our pain and inviting us to move from loneliness and isolation to love and community.
The cross is not about something ordained from the beginning of time, but God’s willingness to share our suffering, to experience the results of our sin, and forgive us and provide us a way to start over again…..at Christmas we speak of “Emmanuel,” God with us, and this is the Good Friday message as well: I am here, I will not abandon you, and will make a way to healing and wholeness regardless of your past or where you have been on life’s journey.
Let these words from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence awaken us to God’s never-ending, always embracing love, for those who crucified him and for us in own brokenness:Can I see anothers woe, And not be in sorrow too. Can I see anothers grief, And not seek for kind relief. Can I see a falling tear, And not feel my sorrows share, Can a father see his child, Weep, nor be with sorrow fill’d. Can a mother sit and hear An infant groan an infant fear — No no never can it be. Never never can it be. And can he who smiles on all Hear the wren with sorrows small, Hear the small birds grief & care, Hear the woes that infants bear — And not sit beside the nest Pouring pity in their breast. And not sit the cradle near Weeping tear on infants tear. And not sit both night & day, Wiping all our tears away. O! no never can it be. Never never can it be. He doth give his joy to all. He becomes an infant small. He becomes a man of woe He doth feel the sorrow too. Think not, thou canst sigh a sigh, And thy maker is not by. Think not, thou canst weep a tear, And thy maker is not near. O! he gives to us his joy, That our grief he may destroy Till our grief is fled & gone He doth sit by us and moan