Easter Jeans - Day 2
Truth > Tradition
Welcome to the Easter Jeans reflection mini-series. I’m so glad you’re here! You may read the post in full below, or if you’d rather, you can also listen to it in audio format by clicking here: Easter Jeans Day 2
“Father, forgive them…” Luke 23:34
Truth > Tradition
It was 2011 when I observed Lent for the very first time.
Just two years later, I opted out. That year, I spent my evenings reading story after story of people giving up sugar and social media all while I dipped strawberries in generic Nutella and tried not to smudge the laptop.
I felt a little defensive. Maybe we could take turns being thoughtfully faithful? Maybe 2011 was more of a “feast” year for me?
Somewhere in the midst of my failure to be a fully attentive “Easter Season Christian”, the pastor of our neighborhood church sent out an email with three open slots for our Good Friday prayer vigil. Like almost everything during those first years in our new community, this was new to me. Still, I emailed back without thinking twice. "I'll take 2:00."
When I was a child someone once told me it rains every year on Good Friday, the weeping of God. Now, despite the obvious meteorological impossibilities (maybe God’s tears were all directed to my zip code?) the metaphorical side of me wished it were true.
But I walked to the church that Good Friday afternoon with the unrepentant sun on my cheeks and my belly full of Mexican food so authentic, the entire menu had been printed in Spanish. It was a stunner of a day, and I was the furthest thing from somber. Who was I to hold vigil? I'd sacrificed nothing. I felt so positively regular.
My insides crumbled just one foot through the sanctuary door. God’s spirit knelt with me there on the worn-down carpet, where my whispers were the only sound and my heart broke in slick jags of undeserved mercy.
This is how God loves us.
The irksome truth is that we cannot arrive at the resurrection without first staring hard at the pain. This week is meant show us a picture of true abundance, but in order to get there, we’ll have to wake up to the ways we cling to tradition more than truth. If we want to walk with the risen Savior, we first have to weep with our suffering brother.
Should we choose to look away from the trauma of the cross, we miss our common, flawed humanity, which might have joined in the blood-lust, or stood idly by, watching, or pounded a nail with just five words, “I do not know him.”
In order to receive Jesus’ last-hour absolution, we must locate ourselves inside the betrayal.
Now is the time to feel around in the darkest corridors of our hearts and grab hold of our bone-deep need for God’s wholeness and love. This is the day to choose the tension of seeing how wrong we have been, how proudly independent, how reckless, how greedy, how positively comfy and safe.
This is the necessary lament, the sharp sting of death that leads us, ramshackle, dusty, and split at the seams, toward redemption.
This is how the light comes in.
A Prayer for Good Friday
by Howard Thurman - author, philosopher, activist, theologian, and mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me, a sinner.
My ego is like a fortress.
I have built its walls stone by stone to hold out the invasion of the love of God.
But I have stayed here long enough. There is light over the barriers.
O my God, the darkness of my house forgive and overtake my soul.
I relax the barriers.
I abandon all that I think I am; all that I hope to be; all that I possess.
I let go of the past.
I withdraw my grasping hand from the future.
And in the great silence of this moment, I alertly rest my soul.
One Simple Way to Rethink Easter
I used to think it was so strange that Good Friday is called good. I did some digging around and it turns out that in this case “good” is used in a more historical context, meaning “holy.” Good Friday tradition calls for fasting, penance, and the snuffing out of all candles, even the fig candle bought with my Christmas cash, if we’re being sticklers.
The Easter Jeans Revolution, on the other hand, calls us to push our internal work a bit closer to the surface of our lives. How might we shape our gratitude that Christ defeated death into practical love and sacrifice for someone else today?
Here are a few ideas: give up an hour of screen time and write as many heartfelt snail-mail notes as you can to the first people who spring to mind; text that acquaintance you keep thinking about and invite them over for an impromptu round of Speed Scrabble after the kids are in bed (get wild and open up a bag of Aldi potato chips); take the cash saved from not buying a fancy Easter dress and donate it to a local food bank or Venmo it to a single parent in your life who could use a boost.