This is the first Friday of Lent 2012 and each Friday in Lent I think of Good Friday. As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century that Christians began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ. First called “Holy” or “Great Friday” the name “Good Friday” was adopted by the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century. There are two possible origins for the name “Good Friday.” The first may have come from the Gallican Church (modern-day France and Germany). The name “Gute Freitag” is Germanic in origin and literally means “good” or “holy” Friday. The second possibility is a variation on the name “God’s Friday,” where the word “good” was used to replace the word “God,” which was often viewed as too holy to be spoken aloud. Whatever the historic origin may be the sacrifice makes it good.
We are not partially forgiven, we are not semi-forgiven, we are not forgiven if we didn’t realize what we are doing or even if we do realize what we are doing. We are FORGIVEN. We are set free from shame, guilt, fear, and death. Free – that’s good. Why is it that we have such a hard time believing this. “Me? You don’t know what I have done. Me? I still have doubts. Me? I am still trying to kick some of my bad habits.” Whatever your semi-excuse may be the answer is – “You’re forgiven.”
The great theologian Paul Tillich once wrote, “He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails becomes a failure in his whole being.” To risk – to trust – to believe that we are fully forgiven and can become more than we thought we could become is the freedom we all hope for. This makes Friday – Good.