When I was in seminary, some of my classes would be 9 hours in duration, giving an hour for lunch. That’s a long time for any of us to sit still. To pass the time I’d draw boxes on my paper and every five minutes color them in. When there were less empty boxes than filled ones, my attitude would shift.

Yet, when I look at the events of Good Friday, nine hours of sitting in an airconditioned classroom seem minuscule.

Scholars say Jesus was nailed to the cross around 9 am. He hung there, suffering for six hours until he uttered his final words. The Gospel of John tells us, “It is finished.” The Gospel of Luke says, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” And with those words he died. Regardless which of the two phrases were his last, after six hours, he surrendered.

Six hours of suffering.

Today, on this Good Friday, I invite us into hours of meditation on the suffering.

Enter the pain of Jesus on the cross –

Denied and accused by the very ones he sought to love.

Join with those closest to him who suffered deep grief at his arrest and crucifixion and find your own places of grief

And where you feel abandoned by God.

These parts of Jesus’ story matter.

These parts of our own stories matter.

As we make our pilgrimage through the next 48 hours, allow yourself to experience the pain of a world that isn’t perfect.

Experience the pain of being in a relationship with people that are broken.

And know we are all on a journey that is not yet complete.

Now we journey into suffering, and we relinquish our need for explanation.

Or understanding.

Where there is great love, there is great suffering.

Sit in the suffering.

Sit in the darkness.

Sit in the death.

Unlike that seminary class, there is no amount of coloring in boxes that will make this time pass while mitigating the pain.

Take a good look at the darkness.

What happens amidst the darkness is what gives meaning, value, and context to the light. We cannot get to the light without knowing the darkness.

May we place ourselves there on this Good Friday.

Grace and Peace,