Good Friday. I’ve always wondered why in the world the day Jesus was unjustly arrested, convicted, tortured, and crucified in a slow and agonizing death, would be called Good Friday. Feels like the worst Friday on record to me.
No one seems to know for sure why this day is called Good Friday, but the consensus seems to be that the word ‘good’ in this context connotes that today is a day of religious observation.
Years ago, when the kids were very little, we started our family tradition to observe Good Friday by going to the beach every year on this day, sometime between noon and 3:00 p.m. when, according to the Bible, Jesus’ life was ending.
We start off next to one breaker with a prayer, then we all walk in silence down the beach to the next breaker and then we turn around and head back. Along the way, each one of us picks up stones from the sand. Every stone represents something that weighs heavy on our hearts.
When we arrive back at the point where we started, we pray together again. This time, we pray with grateful hearts that we can give God all our problems with faith and confidence that somehow, some way, all will be well.
Then we throw every rock back into the Sound and release our pain, our worries, our fears, and our regrets.
With each satisfying splash into the water, we let go of all the things that weigh us down, and give it all back to God. We also give thanks to Jesus for the supreme sacrifice He made so we could live our lives directly connected to God, free from sin and forgiven for being reliably imperfect.
This started, way back in the day, because I wanted to observe Good Friday with the kids, but trying to keep four squirmy little ones quiet in church for three hours felt like it’s own kind of hell. It just didn’t work with little ones.
The silent beach walk worked then, and it works now, because it gives us a way to worship together, and also have some quiet time to reflect, to grieve if we need to, and to reconnect with God in a way that feels personal and powerful.
The fact that millions of other Christ followers are experiencing their own ‘come to Jesus’ moments at the same time makes me feel connected to something so much bigger than myself.
Good Friday inspires a wide range of emotions in me…many of those emotions are highly uncomfortable. Our beach walk ritual gives me a place and a way to let them all bubble up to the surface, be recognized and addressed, and released in an act of faith that helps me hold onto the idea that God is not only in these rough and raw moments on the beach, but in all the moments of my life.
Today is a mash up of grief, deep sorrow, and anger at the savage injustice and torturous death that Christ suffered. I feel simultaneous solitude and connection, and the tiniest seeds of hope for tomorrow that good will come from what looks as bad as bad can be today.
Most of all, for me today is a day to remember that there is something so vast, so encompassing, and so powerful going on. It is impossible to get my head or my arms around it. It defies understanding in my limited human brain, but my heart and my soul are starting to stir.
This story isn’t over.
The best is yet to come.
With love, light and prayers for peace and love to embrace you, to comfort you, and to illuminate that tiny glimmer of greatness that lies underneath the grief, pain and sorrow.