Silent Friday

Tomorrow night’s Easter Vigil could be given the title, “Night of Music.” In the black of night, Christ’s glory will shine like the day and the world will be created anew. Music is one of the most perfect ways that humans can experience and enter into the harmony of the Trinity, the perfect balance for which the world was made. Tomorrow, the church walls will shake with the blare of trumpets and the sung proclamation of the Resurrection.

But we cannot know the glory of music if we have not first experienced its absence. Today we encounter the opposite of music, which is not silence, because silence is an invitation for created beings to step into the unending song of the Creator. The opposite of music is noise. Good Friday is the noisiest day of the year.

The mob roars for the crucifixion of an innocent man. The vulgarity of the soldiers ceaselessly stains the air of Jerusalem. Women wail, demons laugh, and the hammer screams against the nails.

So much noise, so much action. And yet there is one voice that remains so silent on Good Friday that your first instinct is to scream. That is the voice of the Father.

We can cover up Good Friday all we like with whitewashed crucifixes and shallow homilies and Filet O’Fish as our only meal of the day. But we cannot escape the gaping reality of evil, an evil which seems to win on this dark day. Perhaps more shockingly, we cannot escape the reality that the Father allows this evil. Over and over it is Jesus’ obedience to the Father that is emphasized in His death. The omniscient Father watches as His only begotten Son is betrayed, beaten, and mocked. He is there as Jesus is scourged until His entire body is an open wound. He hears the sound of the thorns seeping into His skin. He allows Him to carry a giant Cross, be stripped naked, bored through with nails, and left to suffocate to death.

Light watches light drain from Light’s eyes. The true God watches the true God breathe His last. A Father hears His child call out, “Why have you abandoned me?” And He does nothing.

Good Friday is precisely why I used to struggle to accept the love of the Father. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” is really niche on a coffee mug. It’s almost sickening when you watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and realize what giving the Son really entailed. How am I supposed to respond to that love? How can I receive what I can never repay? How does it make sense that God would become man and die at the hands of men for love of me?

It doesn’t make sense. But it doesn’t have to.

In the final paragraph of C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, the main character writes,

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?

The reason why I receive no answer to my questions is because the Father has already spoken His Word to me. That Word hangs on a tree, skin torn to shreds, life poured out, water pouring from His spear-stabbed heart. It doesn’t matter what I have done or failed to do. The Father has already given His own, His first love, to ransom me. It is finished.

Dear soul, the question today is not why the Father loves. The question is whether you will trust Him without putting limits on His mercy or His providence. Will you allow yourself and all your brokenness to be embraced and transfigured by the God who witnesses the murder of His Son and makes it into something good?

This Father of Christ’s, this Father of ours. He makes all things new. Tonight, the clang of the strepitus at Tenebrae will signal the close of today’s noise. A hush will fall over the earth, as God’s Word remains silenced by our sin. But keep going. For tomorrow night, that Word will roar.

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