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Justice and Peace Meditation for Good Friday

Readings: Isaiah 52:31 - 53:12 -- Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9 -- John 18:1 - 19:42

Solidarity to the brink of death, painful death, and beyond. Never think that God doesn't understand your pain. He was there.

"He was tortured, murdered and buried." Just like so many other men and women in human history who suffered at the hands of someone stronger than they. And a death as real as any experienced by all of humanity.

This knowledge of God's isn't something hard to comprehend, it is blood red, it is water flowing  from a spear wound, it is nails pounded into human flesh. It just doesn't get more real than that.  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness. . . "  He bore our infirmities and our sufferings -- and by His stripes we are healed.

Can we bear to behold such solidarity? Today we venerate and kiss the Cross, symbol of our Savior's offering, but isn't true veneration of the Cross the willingness to live the life-poured-out-for-others that it symbolizes? Today, tomorrow and the day after that?

So what if we are not all Mother Teresa or St. Francis -- does this mean that we must close our eyes to what is happening all around us? I think that too often we would rather keep our Christ safely nailed to a cross, preferably a nice pretty gold or silver cross.  But the question of Good Friday is -- Where is our solidarity today with the Jesus who is among us?

Would we volunteer our time in the urban inner city? Would we speak out against unjust war when the crowds are chanting "Crucify those Iraqi bastards!" What about an impoverished rural community along the Rio Grande,  or in the Navajo Nation? Do we spend more on fun and frivolity than we share with those who are in need? Can we kiss a Cross in our church,  and then turn our backs on it when we are out in the world?   Sure we can, we do it all the time, but the message of Lent culminating in this Good Friday  observance is to turn away from that kind of sin, reform your ways and manners of living, and rise on Easter to new life in Christ.

As we have journeyed through Lent and into Holy Week, the call to daily conversion of life is consistent and without any ambiguity.

We do not have to walk in misery and darkness. We can break free of the chains of slavery to materialism and consumerism and violence and lust and greed and all the other sins of this era. We can rise with Christ to new life, a more holistic life, with balance and healing and virtue, a generative life that brings forth harmony, reconciliation, and peace, a joy that is rooted in service and holiness.

As the Good Thief discovered that day nearly 2,000 years ago, it is never too late to turn back to God. There is never so much water under the bridge, that the bridge cannot be crossed. There is no burden so great that Jesus cannot help you carry it. There is no one who is so far away that they cannot be brought near by the Blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin and restores our relationship with God and each other.

"So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor and to find help in time of need."

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