The Paradox of Crucifixion

By Rebecca Hall
2015 Lenten Meditation, Good Friday

You could make the case that Good Friday is the worst day of the liturgical year. This is the day we re-enact the underbelly of humanity and what it can do. When we look at this day in isolation, it is pretty grim. It is tempting to say that this day is about pain, suffering, death, and loss of hope. But I challenge us to enlarge our perspective and see this day in its larger context. Good Friday is part of the Lenten journey (which ends with the resurrection). The Lenten journey, indeed the spiritual journey, is about cultivating abundant Life. In this wider context the question becomes, “What role does the crucifixion have in the spiritual journey?”

At the beginning of Lent in the first meditation, I encouraged us all to take up a practice. The purpose of giving something up for Lent is to become aware of habits we have and whether they bring us Life or suffering. Our attachments to mundane things like coffee or chocolate or gossip (common things people give up) can bring deeper wounds into awareness. Morton Kelsey in his essay The Cross and the Cellar  (in our One Church, One Book called Bread and Wine, page 206) describes the habits of Judas, Caiaphas, and Pilate as impatience (Judas), lack of courage (Pilate), and rigidity (Caiaphas). Who among us does not embody these (or any other seemingly benign character flaw) at one time or another? Yet these everyday sins contributed to Jesus’ suffering and death. The 40 days of Lent are to bring these parts of ourselves into awareness, not to experience shame or remorse, but to experience healing and wholeness. Lenten practices lead us to the cross, where we may lay down these things in us that cause us suffering and that stand in our way of experiencing Life abundant.

The crucifixion, like all of Holy Week (indeed, the entire liturgical year), is descriptive, not prescriptive. That is to say, the story describes our spiritual journey. God does not cause us harm; for whatever reason, we suffer and we cause suffering. Lent is for placing this inside the larger context of self-examination, discovery of a wound, laying it at the foot of the cross, entering the tomb (for healing), and finally being resurrected to New Life. So look back over your Lent. What can you lay at the foot of the cross today that will free you from suffering and prepare you for the joy and bounty of Easter Sunday and abundant Life?

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