Tony Campolo has this incredible sermon that he preaches, it starts with him describing a service that his church has every year. The preachers take turns preaching after each other, Tony says that it’s not officially a competition, but we all know that’s exactly what it is. One year, Tony stood up to preach and gave “his best sermon ever” The entire church got into it and he fed off their energy. He finished and sat down. Then his pastor got up to preach.
He started slowly, “It’s Friday. And my Jesus was dead on the cross. It’s Friday… Sunday’s coming.” He built it up, “It’s Friday. And they’re saying that Jesus is dead… But Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. And all hope is lost… But Sunday’s coming.” He kept going with that format for an hour. The congregation bought in. He finally ended his sermon by screaming “It’s Fridaaaaaaaaay” and the congregation responded screaming back, “But Sunday’s coming!”
You might be thinking, “but Bethany, it’s Saturday. Why does this matter?” You’re right. We’re in the middle. I love that the church calendar builds this day in. Liturgically, today is the day of defeat, it is the day for grief.
So often, I want to jump to the end. I want to skip the crucifixion and go straight to the resurrection. But there is no resurrection without the crucifixion. There is no joy without the pain.
This past year has been the Lentiest Lent to ever Lent. The isolation, pain, grief, disunity, violence, and illness of COVID’s 2020-2021 may have put you in a place where it seems like there is no hope. Today is the day for us to reflect on the pain and brokenness of the world. It’s the day that we are met when everything is awful. It’s the day without hope. It’s a time to recognize the loss and pain in this world. And we have had so much of that this past year.
But, spoiler alert, we know the ending. Not a full three days after Jesus was laid in the tomb, he rose. God freed us from death and set the world back on the path towards righteousness. We are welcomed into that freedom and righteousness. We are made new in it.
If this past year has been the ultimate Lent, then let us enjoy this Easter as the ultimate Easter. Whether you can join your church family in person or not, join the world in recognizing that God reigns supreme over death. As we watch vaccinations rise and covid numbers begin to fall, let us be filled with the hope of rebirth.
And let us remember the promise that we are given. We are resurrection people. We are not Friday people. We are not Saturday people. We are Sunday people. Praise be to God. Alleluia!