The following is a column written last year for this same day. It’s what I believed then, and it’s what I believe now. May you and yours have a Happy Easter.
Today is Good Friday, beginning the three holiest days of the Christian year. For those of us who are Christian, it represents everything significant about our faith. Our creator manifested himself in our image, walked among us for a time, and sacrificed his sinless self so that our debts would be paid, our sins forgiven.
The concept for those of us who believe is hard enough to fully grasp. For the non-believer, it is virtually impossible, and often the subject of scorn and ridicule. That’s quite understandable, and this column is not an attempt to convert as much as an attempt to explain why this day is important to us, or at least, to me. It is also done with the belief that I would make a horrible evangelist. I write as a fellow sinner, well short of sainthood.
“Good Friday” itself presents somewhat of an oxymoron, but the name says much about the optimism inherent in Christianity. The fact that we could take the public execution of our God and call it good is not about the day itself, but about what came after, and what is yet to come.
Good Friday and the events leading up to it have a powerful message regarding the fallibility of man and our ability to choose our own destiny. Days before his crucifixion, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of an unridden donkey with the crowd ready to make him their King. Days later, they chose a murderer to be released from Prison so that Jesus instead would be killed. It was perhaps the first indictment of public opinion polls, demonstrating what is popular, what is acceptable, what would be from the force of public will can change on a moment’s notice. Yet the gift of redemption and forgiveness has lasted with us for over 2,000 years, and counting.
Despite this great failure, we call it Good. It is good because “It is finished” was not the end, but a beginning. Brutal torturers and murderers were forgiven because they knew not what they did. A couple of millenniums later, we receive the same gift.
And so what does this have to do with a political column? Nothing and everything. We are a country that was founded on the principle of religious freedom. Our Government isn’t allowed to tell us what to believe or how to worship, nor to prohibit us from doing so. How we choose to receive or reject the gift of Easter is entirely up to us.
Yet mixing government and religion is not the same as mixing politics and religion. The latter two are mixed often, with varying results. I’ll save my commentaries on that for another day, save to mention that in my earlier political years, I thought mixing the two ran the danger of cheapening my political party. Today, I fear the mix cheapens my religion.
In my walk through this life, I have found the gift of Easter essential in dealing with personal failures, some public, others private. It’s a gift we Christians believe is direct to us from our creator. It’s a message that transcends politics. It is a power greater than that of any government.
So with that, I wish you a Happy Easter, and a Good Friday.