Across the world, and throughout Christendom it is Good Friday.

I have a swirl of thoughts in my head and feelings in my heart.

Good Friday.

My grandmother died on Good Friday in 1975. I was ten. I remember my mother crying and the unexpected drive across the desert from Los Angeles to Phoenix in my Dad’s green Chevrolet.

The warmth and smell of orange blossoms mingling with the death that hung in the air as Easter weekend collided with the loss of the elegance that marked my grandmother Marie. Juxtaposed. Life, warmth, celebration and redemption running head long into death, loss, grief and confusion; bunny cake and Easter baskets next to flower arrangements and her casket.

It was many years between that somber Friday in 1975 and my first sacred Good Friday. All told almost twenty years. Mark and I joined a small group of people meeting to see if we might be a “church”. We were the first “worship team” for East Valley Bible Church.   I sang in my first ever Good Friday service in the spring of 1993. It was a sacred, solemn, heart wrenching, inspiring invitation to explore a part of the gospel that I had not known in my evangelical upbringing, where we jumped past Good Friday. I soaked it up like a sponge. Something about the intentional engagement of the cross felt grounding and settling while at the same time disruptive and new.

The cross.

cross

What do you think of?

Raw.

Bloody.

Pain.

Shame.

Sacrifice.

Freedom.

Known.

Loved.

Redemption.

Reconciled.

Safe.

Loved.

Grieved.

Aching.

Longing.

Pleading.

Release.

There are so many words that mark the space of the cross inside of me, for me.

How about for you?

My church has spent this Lent season “Journeying to the Cross together”…

If we were to meet at the cross what would that look like? Would we notice one another? Would our eyes meet? Would we hug? Would we weep? Would we talk?

I cannot answer for you, but I can answer for myself.

I would not be looking for you. No offense, or indifference…but the only eyes I want to see are Jesus’. I want to look in His eyes. I want for that moment where my weeping eyes meet with His. I want to thank Him, over and over and over again. I want to touch His feet, the raw space where the nail pierces Him. I want to ache in His presence. The ache that comes from the sweet and unexplainable goodness of His grace that has washed over me, releasing me moment by moment from the guilt and shame and regret that invite me to forget His cross and sacrifice my life to shame.

I know He is not on that cross anymore. I get it. I know my theology. So, I get it, He’s not there…ok.

So the cross is empty, a wooden symbol left to remind me.

But you know what, for me, the cross will always include His presence, the body and blood of my Savior. I am so incredibly glad He rose again, and I love that, I know it’s the ‘hinge pin’ of our salvation, the Resurrection.   But today, today is about Friday.

Death Day.

The Cross.

Without it there’s no need for Easter Sunday. His death is what fuels the joy.

Death fuels joy.

I’ve tasted a lot of death.

Death of 5 unborn babies.

Death of dreams.

Death of relationships.

Death of people.

Death that has led me to the cross, to weep, to rage, to ache, to grieve, to beg, to confess, to hope, to dream again.

To find joy.

The cross.

Sacred.

Personal.

Communal.

Confessional.

Transforming.

Redeeming.

My walk towards the cross is daily, hourly, and moment-by-moment.

I do not walk there to meet you, but to meet Jesus.

Perhaps the space where we meet Him will dissolve into a space where we find ourselves face to face in redemptive ways, at the foot of His cross, where the ground is level and we all need Him, and we are all grateful.

That would bring joy.


DSC_0512Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  Married for 28 years, she is mother to five kids.  After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.  Founder of Red Tent Living, she writes here.

&nb