by Rev. Ione Grover
Today is Good Friday. Prior to middle age, it meant little more to me than a holiday in which I got to eat hot cross buns. I looked forward to Easter as a day for planning an Easter egg hunt for my children and enjoying a dinner with my extended family. Of course I knew about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus but I didn’t see what relevance it had to my life or anyone else’s. I was horrified by the cruelty of the crucifixion and my skeptical mind viewed the resurrection as little more than a fairy tale. All that changed during my middle years when I found myself in a state of despair over the slow crumbling of my marriage. I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of searching to find some meaning in my suffering. I didn’t find a lot of easy answers to my questions but my search led me back to my Christian roots and eventually into the ministry.
I have noticed through the years that attendance at Good Friday services has usually been very sparse in contrast to a full house that most churches have at Easter. This is understandable – the crucifixion can make us feel down. Yet Crucifixion and Resurrection go together in the Christian story – you can’t have one without the other, just as sorrow and joy, loss and gain, life and death are a part of the whole fabric of life.
I have been thinking recently about how the Easter story relates to all our stories. It is all about the mysterious forces that guide our lives. On looking back, most of us can say that we have had our share of troubles, sorrows, loss, mistakes and failure. We have also had many joys, blessings and successes as well. It is amazing how often something good comes out of something bad. At one time, I was upset and angry at my former husband for events leading up to the break- up of our marriage. Yet I am now grateful to him as it has brought me new life, spiritual growth and the joy of living life as it is, not how I thought I wanted it to be. For me, transformation and new life came about through the painful death of my marriage and my former lifestyle. Many of you may have your own stories of how renewal took place after a period of sorrow and loss.
The single element which has made all the difference for me is my faith in an invisible, compassionate intelligent presence which I call God. Before this faith was a part of my life, I felt myself victimized when troubles came. I felt that there was something defective in me that brought these things about. I now believe that no matter what happens, I am deeply and completely loved, as is everyone, though we are not always aware of this. Faith does not have to come with religious trappings or theology – it can be open to everyone. Sometimes, faith can be a sense of awe of the Mystery, that strange, inexplicable presence that is always with you and can turn things around or hold you up in the midst of hard times. The Easter story tells us that God can take our suffering and transform it into a blessing. It tells us that Love is stronger than death. It contains all of our stories, as we journey through life and death and new life, supported and guided by God’s love.
May we all know we are the beloved of God!