Holy week seems to have snuck up on me. I can’t believe it’s already Good Friday. It felt like it was just a couple weeks ago that it was Christmas!
My first year out of college has meant a lot of big life changes and getting used to a new routine (or trying to find a routine) for my daily life.
Do the years just keep getting faster?
I’ve been doing a lot of traveling the past month or so. With a boyfriend in Washington, D.C., a very good college friend in Kansas City and my parents and some old high school friends in Wisconsin, there haven’t been many weekends at my home in Des Moines. I LOVE traveling, but I also miss some of the routine that goes along with investing myself in a community, the people in that community and a church.
Because of the travel, I really haven’t been able to invest myself into a Sunday routine at Gateway Church, my post-college church home. I do listen to the sermons online when I can, and love attending my weekly small group with dear friends and other Christians I’ve met as part of this group. I read a daily devotional, find quiet time alone with God on an almost daily basis, and just finished a terrific book about the life and death of Ed Thomas called “The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story.” (I HIGHLY recommend it. Such an inspirational book about a man and a family with the strongest faith in God and community, even with the awful murder of this beloved high school football coach and teacher.) I don’t see all of this on some sort of spiritual checklist, but I do evaluate this as my way of wanting to grow deeper in my relationship with my creator. As much as I try, there are times where I still feel distant from God.
Could I do more on my end of this relationship? Yes, a lot more. Could I completely reconstruct my life so that I only surround myself with strong believers with solid relationships with Christ so that I, too can grow to that? Yes, but I know God has put me where I am today with the people in my life for a purpose. Could I find a church in every location I travel? I could, but I don’t think that’s the problem.
Sometimes we hit a spiritual wall where God seems far away and we just can’t reach him.
ENTER: Good Friday.
Today, I reflect on this, because the day Jesus died, was the day that these “walls” between God and his children were knocked down for good. A new promise was made, and the people mourned and waited to see if the prophets of the Old Testament were right: Would he rise again?
Today, I sit in beautiful Florida with my parents and reflect on how fortunate I am to have a family that has always loved and cared for me, and how fortunate I am to be able to take this vacation to a mini-paradise. Most importantly, I reflect on how fortunate I am that God sent down his son to die for me, give me grace, and help me, even in my times of distance and sin, be eternally connected to my heavenly Father.
Before Jesus was crucified, there was no grace. There was no direct access to God for forgiveness of sin. No direct relationship with the creator. The only way to have access to God was in the Temple, behind a large curtain where only the high priests were allowed. I REALLY wouldn’t have been allowed access to God, especially since I am also a woman.
When Jesus took his last breath after horrific torture and an agonizing death, something remarkable happened. Something I didn’t really realize the significance of until a Good Friday message at Lutheran Church of Hope my first Easter season there in college.
The curtain was torn. I’d heard that part of the story before, but mostly just thought God was angry at the high priests and the people who did this to his son. That wasn’t it at all. God was in fact fulfilling the promise he had made - opening up the gates, tearing down the walls, giving ALL of us direct access to him. Rich, poor. Men, women. The elderly, the youth. God no longer resided behind a curtain. He tore down the wall.
So, today is a reminder of that promise. I may feel distant from God. I may feel as though I need and want to do more to grow in my relationship with my creator, but I have hope that this will happen. God made sure that this was possible. The curtain was torn for me. That statement is more powerful the more I reflect on it. I can live a life of freedom and grace, as well as a life where I don’t need to but WANT to be Christ-like and love my fellow humans like Christ would love them. I am full of a devine, holy spirit. I am a child of God.
All of this is possible because of what happened on Good Friday those thousands of years ago. The turmoil, pain and mourning that took place so that the curtain could be torn and three days later, the entire prophecy would be filled.
That is the first step in breaking down my spiritual wall. Remembering that God did it for me, and I just need to continually seek him, because he is right there on the other side calling out to me. It’s my job to learn to listen. I won’t say Happy Good Friday. I will say, reflect today. Remember the sacrifice and the meaning behind it. Without this day, there could be no Easter.