Today has been a messy day. The kids woke up early and trashed the play room; books and cars and Legos and dolls all over the place. Sunny reconciled the checkbook only to find out that we’d been overcharged by a few different companies, so she spent half the morning on the phone haggling with them to make things right. Of course, when either one of us gets on the phone, things always escalate between the kids; I think I broke up three different skirmishes while she was trying to talk to one customer service rep. (The rest of the morning, they played together splendidly.) Our back yard needs some serious attention; I trimmed some bushes the other day, but I still haven’t collected all the clippings to get rid of them. The kids had a little toy “rain shaker” thing — it was actually an old Pringles can filled with birdseed and sunflowers seeds that sounds like rain when you turn it upside down. Anyway, you can see where this is going — Jackson dumped it out in the middle of the den a couple hours ago, requiring a quick vacuum of the floor. One thing after another, today has just been a messy day.
All of this is sort of apropos, given that today is Good Friday. More than any other day, today is about the mess of our lives, the mess of creation, and God’s unrelenting mission to bring reconciliation. The messiness of the cross is God’s way of identifying with the mess we’ve made of things down here. Matthew references the Immanuel text of Isaiah at the birth of Jesus, but the spilled blood pooling in the dirt at the foot of the cross testifies that he is indeed “God with us.” But the cross is about much more than identification. In this beautiful moment, Jesus absorbs the totality of our messiness — our violence, our barbarity, our prejudices, our hostilities, our rebellion, our sin. In so doing, he becomes our peace (Eph. 2.16), through shedding his blood on the cross and reconciling all things to himself (Col. 1.20). The cross is God’s work to bring peace for the world, a world we’ve pretty well wrecked.
Sometimes the messiness of life obstructs my vision; we become myopic and overwhelmed. For many of us, the darkness of Friday seems a bit too much to bear. But in the messiness and chaos of life, God offers a remedy. Peace. Reconciliation. Being brought into the shalom of God where all things are put to rights once and forever. This is the work of the cross, the definitive act of love at humanity’s darkest hour. But the cross is only half of the story. The cross is incomplete without the tomb; Friday can only be called “good” in light of Sunday. As Tony Campolo says, “It may be Friday, but Sunday’s a-Comin’.”
Sunday is coming. Maranatha, Lord.