Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Grace

At breakfast this morning with my kids, Kathryn and Dan, we were saying grace. Our habit is to pray pretty informally, with people adding whatever they want to offer God after the one leading the prayer has finished. Today, as we remembered various things related to Good Friday, Dan had this to offer: “Please help Jesus with the memory of his death.”

I stopped short, first at the paradoxical notion that the resurrected Son of God might need help with anything, and then at the depth of the theological insight. Without exactly realizing it, Dan was taking very seriously two important Christian doctrines that sometimes seem to conflict: incarnation and ascension. With the doctrine of incarnation, we make the scandalous claim that God became human in Jesus Christ -– not just pretending to be human, or adopting a few of our limitations, but becoming fully human, even to the point of suffering the worst death I can imagine (as we remember so vividly today). And with the doctrine of the ascension, we proclaim that the resurrected Jesus returned to the Godhead, bringing with him the experience of being fully human, complete with all our joys and all our sorrows. And, as Dan’s prayer extrapolated it, complete with traumatic memory, too -– memory that needs ongoing healing, as all our traumas do.

So this Good Friday, I join my son in praying for Christ’s tears. Through them, may the God who is Three in One bring to mind the mysterious connection with our humanity made deepest on this good and horrible day; and may Jesus indeed continue to find healing in the depth of our gratitude for his pain.

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