By The Revd. Canon Deborah Parsons
On a recent visit to a local Primary School, I was approached by a small boy on the way into the hall. He said: “Why is it called Good Friday when Jesus died on that day? Surely it should be called Bad Friday?”
At the time, I was slightly thrown by the directness of the question but on reflection I’m heartened by his child-like curiosity, the questioning faith, the willingness to ask difficult questions and the ability to search out the truth in an event that seems paradoxical.
I can’t remember what answer I gave him but it was along the lines of God’s willingness to be with us in suffering as well as in joy; in death and in life; in all our experience.
Of course, we encounter death and resurrection, endings and beginnings throughout our lives.
We will all encounter our own Good Fridays, in the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one; the abrupt ending of our health or job or way of life; the ending of a relationship. These times are excruciatingly painful and cause us to dig deep but they also become our growing tips. When we have descended into those hellish places and survived, we realise for ourselves that there is nowhere we can be where we are not held in God’s love.
It’s twenty years since the invasion of Iraq. Wars, sectarianism and civil wars continue to abound. When Russia invaded Ukraine, and peace in Europe was threatened, I took part in an international, silent vigil. In the early hours of the morning, the image that I could not erase from my mind was of a five-year old Ukrainian boy, who had vomited with fear when he was told that the Russians had invaded. It’s sad that child-like innocence should end in such a way but I hope that the response of the international community will also encourage him to know that when one person, one country, one nation suffers, we all suffer because we are united by our common humanity.
The Cross is an important part of our Gospel and our experience. We still mark the Friday of Jesus’s death and call it “Good” because even here, amid suffering, is the one who is life for us.
Our joy is not rooted in events going our way but in God going our way – whatever that journey entails. This is the Gospel we share: the good news of Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ,
Revd. Canon Deborah Parsons