The streets of Sofia are uncharacteristically quiet this Good Friday morning. There is the occasional car, the steady whiz of a city bus, the sporadic pace of a pedestrian, but the city is walking this day in a reverent kind of hush. Even the bright and glorious Thursday sunshine has dimmed her brilliance to a somber sort of haze.
Bulgarians call this day Разпети Петък ‘Crucifixion Friday’.
This is the day of our brokenness, when our hopes and our dreams of something better lay in shattered shards around our feet.
This is the day of wailing and mourning and holding onto each fleeting last hope that God will step in and stop this event.
I can imagine how the heart of every disciple was expecting God to come, expecting Jesus to throw off his humility and assert his power as king. I can imagine how little fissures of doubt and reality must have begun their sickening, creeping journey to the heart, one disiciple at a time.
“Maybe he wasn’t?”
“But, I was so sure. He was so sure. The miracles – we saw him do miracles.”
“He wasn’t … was he?” And that last question, not really a question at all, but rather a rhetorical reality.
So our Gospel story shows us us those first disciples huddled together in a Friday night sort of waiting. But, remember – they were not waiting for hope to arrive.
They were not waiting for Sunday morning to dawn.
They were waiting in fear. They were waiting for enough time to pass or enough courage to come or some wisdom to emerge because they are marked as part of him. They were dead men and dead women walking when they left that upper room.
Imagine the sickening realization that Jesus was really only and just a man. Not a savior. Not the son of God. Just a man who bled and died on a Roman cross like everyone else born of a woman.
Here in 2017, we the faithful, we wait but not like those first broken-hearted disicples waited. We wait with expectation for Sunday and that kind of waiting is something different. In fact, the very name ‘Good Friday’ exists from a perspective after that first Sunday.
Waiting with hope is a different sort of animal from a broken-hearted, tattered sort of waiting.
Let us join the disciples in this Friday and this Saturday of waiting. With our bellies full from that last supper at the table, with our minds buzzing over words that confuse us, with our hearts troubled and unsettled by events that seem to be spinning beyond our realm of control. Let us wait. We are waiting.
Because we are in exile now.
Just like Adam and Eve, we are now cast out from the promise of an Eden-future. Somehow, that sinking, sickening sense of a hopeless, helpless, unbearably final blackness that Adam and Eve must have felt with the Garden at their backs is the same hopeless, helpless, unbearable finality that the disciples felt with the cross at their backs.
We have become travelers in a foreign place where we do not belong. We are wanderers in a land which does not welcome us. We are here now amongst a people that do not know us and do not want us, yet somehow it is in this place that we must make our home.
This Friday journey takes some kind of courage, for our skin has the tender pall of a people who were once shaded by a glorious veil of trees. We are marked and obvious, and suddenly vulnerable in this wild wilderness – questing to conquer lest we be conquered. We are deeply, tragically, desperately in need of refuge.
Our name is refugee. Our name is wanderer. Our name is foreigner. We are Other.
Here, with the name refugee and in the vulnerability of our humanity, let us wait for Sunday.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12: 1 (NIV)