I will not ask you to sit in the tension of Good Friday or glimpse the despair of the early church as its spiritual leader was slain by empire. I will not ask that you resist the coming promise of Easter morning. If you are like me, you’ve been asked to do this every Good Friday since you became a believer.
The unbearable truth is that our world is flooded with examples of colored bodies fallen victim to state sanctioned violence; they are reduced to videos and headlines that circulate, names that we say aloud. Every day we are presented with opportunities to mourn the unjust. The reality is that we are so familiar with death that our response can become conditioned. We wade through the feeling that our social media posts, our police escort protests, our monetary gifts are just not enough.
I will not ask you to enter into the narrative of Good Friday. You are living it. This is instead an invitation to presence, to questioning, to be rightfully infuriated with the ways we distribute the weight of it all –
Reading the familiar account of The Crucifixion, so integral to my understanding of grace, I petition: why has my salvation been found exclusively in the stripes of Jesus Christ? His flesh torn symbolically as to open the veil encircling the throne of God, His body broken that I might expel the shame from mine. Is there not another entryway than through the wounds in His side?
I dwell on the inherent divinity of the colored body. The way this has always threatened the elite and powerful, a truth so profound that God turns His face from Jesus in those final moments. I see that, time and again, the unspeakable violence endured by the marginal lets off the residual pressure of injustice upon our most broken systems, deflating our collective belief in a better world. How perpetual cycles of
violence eventually cause us to also look away, to find ourselves over-eager for Sunday morning. For relief, for an explanation, for hope.
I lament that my faith has seemed to be strengthened by my understanding as I ponder the death of the colored body: beginning with The Christ, but also beyond that: God communed with me in my kitchen as I wept for Philando Castile. I found space for my seeking in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s murder. When did the perfecting of my faith begin to revolve around the tragedy of the colored body? Christ’s sacrifice is profound, but its true message may be that suffering is senseless. I wonder now what God said in the garden when Jesus asked if there was another way. Maybe there was. Maybe such imperfect societies have never held space that de-necessitated the burdening of those on the margin.
The sufferings of Christ on Good Friday did not further sanctify Him, He maintains His Holiness in all manners of being – His death did not activate this within Him. How then have I internalized that this act ushers me into more intimate knowledge of God than another?
My deepest prayer this Good Friday is that the tenets of our faith broaden to include not merely the death but also the life of Christ as an agent of our sanctification. I recount the baptism of Christ before He began His public ministry – God declares His pleasure in us separate from our works. My service is not the cause of my salvation but instead a manifestation of a more robust understanding of it. I glimpse the dozing person of Jesus in the boat, amidst the storm. Why can’t rest be my most sacred offering? I belong to the example of contentment in the Presence of God, a droplet in the current of Shalom.
I look today at the hands of the Living Word, not wounded, but cupped and full of water. Extending toward the sick and the weary. My peace is flowing from the realization that I am Holy as I seek to meet the needs of others in love.
We are confounded at times by the belief that Christ, having imparted Himself unto us, unlocks our capacity to do miracles. Perhaps we level these thoughts in the shadow of the cross instead of in the light of His gentleness. It may be that the most obvious example of death and rebirth, The account of The Crucifixion, blinds us from every small resurrection that occurs daily. Do we measure ourselves so much by His death, so irreplaceable, that we overlook life, those unannounced moments where we walk in Christ’s very footsteps? We cannot be so swept by His grand gestures and miracles that we miss the still, small voice.
To view Jesus this way allows us to do the same for our siblings (by which I mean all people, kinship not reserved for those only with ideological similarities) to “give someone their flowers” is to recognize life as a vapor, to commend the beauty of another person while they are here with us. I long for our faith to be strengthened by acknowledging our need for community, for the decentering of ourselves to be a revelation.
Particularly as we relate to people different from us, let our faith grow from seeds of diversity, in conversation and communion, through the difficult conversations that arise therein. Let the ways that we honor others lead us into pursuits of biblical justice both big and small, that we would not wait for another school shooting or senseless act of police violence to employ our ability to do miraculous things. Love is a miraculous thing.
Then perhaps we will break this vicious cycle. It will change the way our beliefs are enriched to celebrate the lives of others. Let us be proactive with intercession and service. Moving earnestly in prayer only in response to the loss of Queer, BIPOC, unsheltered, immigrant, or differently abled relatives that costs these vulnerable people too much. The loss of their lives or their dignity should not be the only catalyst for spiritual breakthrough.
I’d like to offer a prayer in closing.
To Earth, oh Lord, you came with intention,
as a fulfillment of prophetic word.
You appeared faithfully despite
a most intimate knowledge of your fate.
Surely, God chose a way that would satisfy
not purely His wrath but also the wrath of men,
a violence that continues to pervade our world.
In doing so, you have given us
a chance at abundant life.
As we reflect today on that Good Friday
at the Place of the Skull,
may we find our salvation
may we find grace
life and healing
beyond the spear in your side –
as a dove descending upon you,
the washing of feet,
the quiet moments of solitude
away on the mountain.
As we do,
would you reveal Your Spirit
would you wipe away
the belief in our depravity
and leave only beauty.
Would we witness beauty
in ourselves the way that you do.
Would we experience this revelation
Exceedingly in others.
Recognizing their divinity,
doing justice unto them,
seeking righteousness on their behalf
and shielding them from the imposition
of society’s ills upon them.
Would life beget life,
in our hearts today.
For the renewing of our minds
we worship the living God,
looking ahead to the ascension
of all things.
By your loving-kindness,
your gentle words,
in your example of rest, Jesus,
we are healed.
IIWAA (Piipaash/Quechan) is a performer, songwriter, and recording artist representing District 7 of the Gila River Indian Community. They are the recipient of the 2022 Viola Award for Excellence in Music for their debut EP, Dysphoria. IIWAA has been featured on the Native America Calling radio show, the CBC, and recognized by the Grammys Recording Academy.