It is ironic that we who are not incarcerated usually spend Good Friday in beautiful churches instead of sparse execution chambers. I wish the people of God would crowd into prisons to mark the occasion instead. We certainly have enough of them in the America; more than anywhere else in the world.
So it is fitting that we are stuck at home. Imprisoned, as it were, though most of us are freer and more comfortable than our siblings who are in prison.
Remember, it was religious leaders allied with the state who executed Jesus. Institutional religion defended itself against reform, and militaristic government defended itself against revolution. Both collaborated to put Jesus on the cross, much the same way politicians and religious leaders collaborate today. This is why some churches put flags in their sanctuaries, and why some politicians want scriptures on the walls of courthouses.
I am sorry that Christians are not able to gather in sanctuaries for Holy Week, to tell the story of Jesus’s last supper with his disciples and the way he was mocked and killed by our leaders. I miss the drama of sanctuary choirs and tenebrae services of light and shadow.
But the story we tell is being acted out on a global stage, as religion and politics scramble to cover their nakedness with fig leaves, to hide from God and the public view that their power is based on fiction. The crucifixion unmasked the sin of humanity, as this pandemic does. Suffering exposes that so much of human suffering is manufactured, the punishment we inflict upon ourselves and the innocent in order to maintain the status quo.
Good Friday is only “good” insofar as it is a revelation of the way God works among us. We nail Christ naked on the cross, but it is our whole system of deciding who “deserves” life and death that is exposed, naked and shameful. This is the sin we see most clearly, we who are willing to let some die to save the economy. “It is better that one man die than the whole nation perish,” was the logic of the day.
We tell the story even as our leaders deny they know Jesus every day, but we blame *Peter* for saving his own skin. We blame Judas for selling out his friend for 30 pieces of silver, but we won’t provide health care to the most vulnerable. We blame Pilate for washing his hands, but Alabama just executed a man who didn’t pull a trigger, not for the sake of justice, but to preserve its own system of executions. “We have to do this,” went the reasoning, “or else we wouldn’t be able to execute ANYbody.” Our governor and the Supreme Court washed their hands and walked away.
We don’t need to gather in church buildings to celebrate Good Friday. Good Friday is all around us.