As I write this today I am sitting in the shadow of Duke’s Chapel bell tower as the death knell tolls for the Stations of the Cross. For those of you not raised in a traditional church, the Stations of the Cross is a Good Friday practice in which believers trace the path of Jesus’ last walk, stopping to read Scripture and meditate on his final moments. It is a sobering journey.
As I sit and listen to the bell toll, each clang shaking me to my core and moving me to tears, I hear the conversation of three young college women sitting 20 feet away from me. They are talking about who they hooked up with this week.
The irony of this moment is unmistakeable–these women are glorying in their sins while a bell tolls over them in remembrance of Christ’s death because of their sins.
There’s a part of me that is so angry listening to their complete and total obliviousness. But then again, that’s exactly why Christ had to die. Not because those women are particularly sinful, but because we all are. How often do I take for granted the magnificent gift I’ve been given? How rarely do I allow myself to confront the true darkness of my own soul, a darkness so profound that Jesus was executed for it?
Last night my husband and I discussed whether we would attend Duke’s Good Friday service, and I was leaning against it. During this service the story of Christ’s journey to the cross is read aloud, and after each stage some of the lights are turned off. At the point of Jesus’ death, all the lights go out and we sit in total darkness as the bell tolls 33 times for each year that Jesus lived. I sob through it every year.
But I just didn’t feel up to it this year. It’s a powerful, emotional experience that wrecks me every time, and I just wasn’t in the mood.
Yet as I listen to these young ladies and reflect on my own resistance to owning my sin, I think I’m going to go.
It’s important to reflect on the consequences of our sin. Not to stir up self-loathing guilt or shame, but because darkness enables the light to shine much brighter. It is not until we fully comprehend that from which we’ve been saved that we can truly rejoice on Easter Sunday.
So I challenge you to take some time today or this weekend to reflect on your sin. Ask God to open your eyes to the darkness so that you can fully appreciate the light. While we often blow past Good Friday because we can’t wait until Sunday, Easter isn’t really Easter without Good Friday.