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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, April 2, 2010

Suffering

Today is Good Friday, the day we contemplate suffering. As I've been reflecting on this most somber day in this holiest week I'm considering what to do with this significant bit of the Christian story. I confess to struggling with the ancient traditions of Christianity that suggest there's really nothing to struggle about: Jesus paid the price for my sins and that's the end of it.

Of course no one really says "that's the end of it"-- or at least not much, right out loud. But I see it sometimes in the way we act. Yesterday I spoke of the hurly burly of Holy Week in a typical congregation. Not to be critical, but as part of my own consideration of how to spend this Good Friday, I note how quick we are to move from the contemplation of suffering and move to the celebration of the price that's paid and now on to the flowers, the chocolate, the baked ham and "all's well that ends well."

My moments of contemplation have taken me into an awareness of just how much suffering exists in the world, in my world. No one is immune. Even the Son of God suffered at the hands of an unjust society. Surely not for me to say "He did it all; now on with the party."

Human nature is inclined to assume people somehow get what they deserve. But I know this is not true and that the innocent and the righteous also suffer. Have you seen the Haiti earthquake pictures? Our response must be one of compassion. How will I ensure I continue to respond with compassion in the face of such suffering?

I've personally spent quite a lot of time in jails and prisons, and on the streets with those who want to repent and find a way back into society. How very hard that is! I know there are some people who may, in fact, be said to deserve their suffering. But I cannot turn from those children of God either. Just as Jesus did not turn from the thieves on the crosses beside Him, or from the government agents who nailed Him up there. "Forgive them" He said.

And to me, He says "Find compassion for those who suffer." If my reflection on His suffering does not turn me to acts of compassion, it is I who do not deserve my Easter celebration.

Posted by Marion

2 comments:

  1. For me this has always been the most holy of holy days, it has always been one of a deep feeling of sadness and loss. I often feel that but for time and space I might have been there in Jerusulem, and who knows what position I might have taken.
    Because we did not have a Good Friday service this year at GTA West, I chose to worship with the Kingdom Glory Ministries, the group who is buying the Mississauga church, and who I have come to see as very good friends. I was quite surprised at the tone of the service, it wasn't the sombre service that I'm accustomed to, nor refelected my previous feelings on this day. Instead it was one of celebration and joy, not because of the risen Christ, as one would expect on Easter Sunday. It was joy and celebration of the 'Redemption' of humanity that was paid once and for all by Christ, ending the previous requisite ritual sacrificial offerings to God. They saw this day as one to celebrate that mankind need but embrace this one-time gift of Christ to restore their relationship with God.
    If ever their were a people who have suffered at the hands of mankind, it was this people, and they were over the top in their celebration of redemption, they were redemmed by a God who was colour blind.
    I found their celebration quite infectious and it lifted my spirits for the rest of the day, and I don't think I will see Good Friday in quite the same light ever again.
    This isn't exactly following your theme for today, but close enough that I wanted to share this with you.

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  2. Your response reminds me of my visit to the Montreal Haitian congregation the weekend after the earthquake. It might have felt incongruous to experience the celebration that was the tone of the worship that day. Like the Good Friday "celebration" you describe here, I think it was true in part because of the suffering they know.

    My contemplation is for those of us who too often forget or avoid our knowledge of real suffering. We're too ready to move on to what feels good. That was not what I experienced in Montreal, or, I think, what you found with the Kingdom Glory folk.

    You state that they also understand suffering. And they understand that God is with them in the midst of it. That! is what they're celebrating.

    Thanks for sharing, Mel. You've helped me think a little deeper.

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