Easter Needs Good Friday

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We live in a culture that idolizes life and fears death.

It’s everywhere.

We witness it in the never-ending attempts to remain forever young.

We observe it in the faces and bodies that tend to be highlighted in media.

And we’ve seen it pervade many of our churches.

I worked for a decade at a church that began its Easter services on Good Friday(!), giving the weight of Jesus’ death a meager few minutes at the start of the service before quickly whisking us along to the empty tomb and an over-the-top celebration of new life.

Yet when we don’t sit with the cross—when we gloss over death—we act out our impulses to avoid the uncomfortability of loss and death. But far more than that, by rushing past Good Friday we lose the very thing that gives meaning to Easter and we miss the only path that leads to new life.

This journey to life through death was obviously true for Jesus. But it also is a pattern God has deeply woven into our world.

You know by now that I detest winter. It feels like death to me, both literally and metaphorically. Yet every year, the death of winter makes possible the new life of spring.

This pattern is true in our lives, in our relationships, and in our churches as well.

Too often, churches fear any sort of “death” for the church as they have known it. Yet by doing so, they miss out on the possibility of even greater life on the other side of that death.

One of our greatest motivating factors at Ace in the City is helping churches learn to let go of the ways they have viewed themselves, their building, their work (to die!), believing that if we can die to these things,

There’s new life on the other side.

New possibilities.

New fruit.

New expressions of God’s love and grace that we’d never experience any other way.

Eugene Peterson once wrote,

“The practice of resurrection is an intentional, deliberate decision to believe and participate in resurrection life, life out of death, life that trumps death, life that is the last word, Jesus life.”

But elsewhere, Peterson reminds us:

“’Only where graves are is there resurrection.’ We practice our death by giving up our will to live on our own terms. Only in that relinquishment or renunciation are we able to practice resurrection.”

This past weekend I pray that you were able to sit with the weight and beauty of both Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Moreover, as those seeking to practice resurrection in our world today, may we embrace the work of practicing death to the things that hold us back from resurrection life.

Dying to live,