Funny how little things stick with you. In our house, the Friday before Easter isn't called Good Friday - its Bad Friday. Justin renamed it - and he has every right to.
Four years ago he was badly injured on Good Friday morning - he was playing tag in the park near the house and a friend threw a stick at him. The stick hit him in the face and tore open the side of his mouth. I heard his screams from the open window in my bedroom and raced down stairs. I met my 8 year old son, hand bloodied and tears streaming down his face, on the front steps with a towel in my hand.
We called ahead to the doctor, 6 miles east of us, and raced to his office. We were immediately ushered into an examining room where Doc Cleary said there wasn't anything he could do but numb him up and send us on to a plastic surgeon, some 30 some miles further east. A few minutes later we were on our way again, Justin's screams were silenced, but we were all somber as we wondered what awaited us at the next stop.
Justin's one request was that he be put to sleep while the Doctor stitched him up...but this Doctor didn't have the equipment to do that in his office - to do so would mean another hour in the car - and after a brief conversation Justin agreed to stay there and get his mouth and cheek repaired. It took 45 minutes and 28 stitches to put him back together again. We both cried throughout the procedure.
When we finally returned home, exhausted and broken hearted, I looked at the clock and realized the community Good Friday service was to start in a couple of hours - but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I had spent 3-4 hours with MY son, MY precious son as he bled and screamed out in pain. How could I keep it together enough to talk about another mother bearing witness to the brutal torture and crucifixion of her precious son, Jesus?
The congregation was very understanding and the lay leader assured me that they would be fine, the Presbyterian Pastor would be there as well and they would take care of my part. The next day, I struggled to make sense of my feelings as I put the finishing touches on my Easter sermon. But the words that had brought joy and hope to me in the past rang hollow. Justin was unable to eat, his face was swollen and he still cried out from the pain. He would be scarred for life because of this. How is this fair?
We made it through the Easter Sunday Service. His friend, the stick thrower, brought over a basket full of Easter candy and apologized through his own tears. Justin was gracious enough to say, 'it's ok.' Later that afternoon I struggled to write a couple of papers for my seminary classes. I was finally forced to email my professors and ask for an extension, apologizing for my inability to wrap my mind around the assignments that were due.
One of my professors, Dr Les Longden, then taught me an important lesson...he said; 'Deb, sometimes we just need to spend more time in the tomb, and thats ok.'
It would have been within God's power for Jesus to be resurrected any time after his death on the cross. But the time spent in the tomb was not in vain. It was the Sabbath, the 7th day of creation, the day of rest. Christ's resurrection on the 8th day signified the ushering in of the New Creation. We are all new creations through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Jesus began his ministry with an invitation for all people to participate in the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven - “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (the words of Jesus of Nazareth - Mark 1:15 NIV). The Kingdom of God as a reality here and now as well as in the future...Whoa! What a gift...and all we must do is repent and believe...it's almost unfathomable!
Some of us are ready to embrace this gift now...some of us will need some time in the tomb; at rest, in prayer and reflection and even to struggle through feelings of doubt before we are able to say with peace, hope, and joy - Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed!
Until then, the time in the tomb is not wasted time - it is time to work things out in fear and trembling. Regardless of our Bad Fridays (or Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays....you get the idea) Christ is Risen - Christ is Risen indeed - and he is waiting to give us the greatest gift of all - unconditional love and acceptance.
Justin may need reconstructive surgery some day - we just won't know for sure until he is fully grown. The scar on the left side of his face and his lip is noticeable to me, but I don't really think it has much of an impact on him. We never really talk much about Bad Friday until Easter approaches. I am ok with that too.
May you find peace and hope this Holy Week - and if you need some more time in the tomb - I pray that you don't go it alone...I pray that you have a brother or sister in Christ to sit and be present with you and remind you that God is ALWAYS present...always waiting to receive you with open and loving arms. Sometimes when we enter the tomb its the last thing we think we need, but its the greatest gift of all...and there's no rush leaving - it is what it is - a safe place for rest and renewal...I even visit there from time to time myself.
"I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." (The words of Jesus, the Messiah. John 16:33)