Friday, April 22, 2011
Good Friday 2011
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42
Today, we have spent part of the morning putting plants and seeds in the garden. I couldn't help but think, on this Good Friday that also happens to be Earth Day, how much planting a garden is like preparing for burial. It is a holy time, and solemn too. Many things need to be done before the earth can receive the seeds and plants. Likewise with a body. We have hours of preparations - tilling the ground, getting rid of roots, adding many pounds of nutrients and peat moss. Like wise, at death, there are religious customs and organic rituals that need to be done - pounds of spices, clean linens, and a nice resting place needs to be found. All of life, our beginnings and ends can be seen in the garden. Our lives are never far from where we began or where we will end. Good Friday, when all of life and hope hang in the balance, we are reminded of our frailty and the need to trust the Creator for all life.
We hear the story from John's Gospel, of the secret disciple of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea. His cloak of hiding is shed out of love for Jesus. He risked it all in order to honor the one who have given his life for the world. His tender care, his compassion - it makes him brave enough to take on the authorities and very publicly proclaim his intimate relationship with Jesus. He takes Jesus to the garden or repose, modeling for the world a love that knows no shame.
Today, I ask God to help me to be patient and brave in these times when so much seems buried and little is revealed - a time when everything seems fragile and vulnerable. May I trust completely in the love Creator who made Joseph bold, and brought life to one so publicly crucified. May I embrace the God's love that has no shame, and live boldly trusting God's goodness in each moment.