The older I get, the more Good Friday means to me. I can't make it through a service without weeping.
The haunting chorus of "Were You There?"
The image of my Lord willingly handing himself over to be judged and convicted,
The vehement, hateful, blood thirsty cries from the crowd,
Creation recognizing the significance of the hour...
This lenten season hasn't been 'triumphant' for me. I would like to know if there are people who succeed in giving things up, or adding practices in - and the effect that being successful has on their spiritual life. Because, I am awful at it. AWFUL.
In fact, this year I recognized that I'm not really good at giving things up (and couldn't pinpoint any certain "practice" that would, if eliminated, bring me closer to God); so, I decided that I would "add something in." I decided that I would add in the practice of reading/praying/journaling 30 minutes before bed; technically, I would be giving up whatever I normally do in those 30 minutes (TV, facebook, pinterest).
Over the course of the past 40 days, I have been only slightly successful at observing that practice.
Instead what I realized about myself is that I am LAZY. I am unmotivated. I lack self-discipline. AND on top of all of that, most of the time, I'd like to just blame my husband for my lack of success in observing my Lenten practice...because that's how lazy I am. I can't even take the ownership of my own short-comings.
What did that lead to? A lot of guilt. A lot of realizing that something is missing in my heart...a desire that surpasses all others to spend time with my Lord.
So, on Good Friday, I came in with a heart full of guilt, sin, shame, and this recognition of emptiness.
In the first reading from Isaiah, I was reminded that he bore our guilt. Over and over in the passage from Isaiah, the description of the Messiah indicates that he will bear our guilt, sin - all of our iniquities.
During the service, I recognized that the man on the cross was my friend, Jesus. Unlike any other time in my life, I felt like I was observing the death of my friend. My friend, who willingly bore all of my sin; my friend, who exhibited all of the self-discipline in the world; my friend, who loved me enough to take my place. My friend, Jesus, who loves me for me - the lazy, unmotivated, imperfect, sinner - and the one who desires to do good, to inspire, to love to be more - all of me. My friend, Jesus, died...and I wept.
I don't know what it's like to 'succeed' at your Lenten sacrificing. I do know what it's like to come up short (fail). I do know that on this Good Friday, my friend met me at the cross.
I also know that I look forward to reconnecting with this friend....