Annually the Easter weekend takes us through a wrenching drama, from the horror of a humiliating death to the hope of new life and resurrection.
It would be a grave mistake if we confined the reality of this drama to three days of the year, for the journey from Christ’s passion to his resurrection speaks to our experiences as we steward our vocation in the world of work.
It is somewhat ironic that the label ‘Good Friday’ is attached to a day that doubtless felt the opposite for those shocked by Christ’s arrest and crucifixion.
While we can call it good in retrospect because of the redemptive benefits that come to us from the cross, our familiarity can cause us to move too quickly past the despair and devastation of that day.
That Friday was full of fear and uncertainty for those who just days earlier had seen Jesus welcomed like a heroic king. If we try to imagine what they must have felt, it had to seem like the worst possible day.
Here is one place where it is important for Christians to practice truth-telling of the most bracing variety: sometimes we have horrible days in our own lives, perhaps so full of the wrong kind of surprises that we dare not ask “what else could happen?”
Amid all the efforts to discuss the importance of a faith that is integrated with work and economics, it is important to acknowledge that even the proverbial ‘dream job’ may be attended by circumstances that bring almost as much disappointment as the great promise offered by meaningful and satisfying work.
A slower pace through our encounter with ‘Good’ Friday may help us to have this type of honesty and integrity.
I admit that I am not one who has given lots of attention to the Saturday after the crucifixion, but it was put more on my radar when I met Dr. Eddie Glaude of Princeton University.
One of the most distinct things I remember from our time together was his focus on living in the darker space of the Saturday between the cross and resurrection.
That day after the crucifixion was perhaps marked by more confusion than the previous day, and the little information we have in Scripture does not suggest that the followers of Jesus were anticipating that they would soon be the most hopeful people on the planet. Confusion and perhaps a sense of being let down might have been pervasive among the disciples, and maybe even fear that they were next for execution.
This was a Saturday of reckoning with death.
This experience of reckoning is not far from us in our moments of lingering uncertainty that accompany us as we do our work day by day.
How many of us are thankful for work that pays that bills, yet the daily experience of our work is less readily connected with purpose and meaning, even if such meaningfulness is being sought? There are many whose work does not provide the luxury of immediate satisfaction; indeed the greater temptation may be the a voice that keeps asking “Who cares?” and “Does any of this matter?”
The disciples were likely vexed on that Saturday, and we are not immune from similar experiences.
The Hinge of History
The great thing about Easter weekend is that all the weight need not be placed on Friday and Saturday (though sometimes it seems all the weight is placed on Friday). The reason we celebrate this weekend is because Christ was resurrected on Sunday morning. He went on to appear to his disciples and give them a greater hope than they could have imagined even when they were with him during his pre-crucifixion ministry.
Christ’s victory over death and sin puts the two previous days into proper perspective without denying their importance or diminishing the experience. Given the emphasis often given to Friday (that almost makes Easter Sunday seem less climactic), I wonder if we actually struggle the most with seeing how Christ’s resurrection resonates with our journey down the path of vocation.
Christ’s resurrection ought to inject hope into all the experiences we have in the world of work, including our cruciform disappointments and periods of perplexity. The victory of Christ even puts the best days in perspective, as none of our achievements are as great as the dead being raised.
We can be people who live in truth, hope, and humility as we do our part in being stewards of the work God has given each of us.
On these three days, the hinge of history, Christ’s work touches our experiences and puts them in perspective.
Because of Easter, God’s people can be deeply realistic and profoundly hopeful.
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