It is Good Friday.
A term that has always seemed like an oxymoron to me. I mean, if you are going to be nailed to a cross, for any reason whatsoever, that does not seem like a particularly good day for anybody.
Oh, I know, I know.
Sunday is a’coming.
There is a pretty dark Friday to endure in the meantime.
I know most of the Christian world is focused on celebrating the coming Resurrection. Or is it the past Resurrection? Perhaps both?
Me? I can’t quit thinking about those Kenyan students gunned down in classrooms by a militant group yesterday. One minute you are in your dorm worrying about your biology lab or that upcoming statistics exam and the next minute gunmen are shouting at you to repeat a Muslim prayer.
And if you can’t
Because you are Christian and Not Muslim, because the only prayer you know by heart is the Our Father, then the gunman pushes the barrel of his gun into your gut and pulls the trigger.
And for that and no other reason, you are now lying in a pool of blood, dying.
This Resurrection Sunday will be your Resurrection Sunday.
It seems so far removed from us, this land of Kenya. All the way across the ocean floor. Its customs unknown. Its holidays uncelebrated here in my neck of the woods. Its foods strange. Its politics even stranger.
Yet, as someone who has taught at university, I see the faces of my students in the faces of those students, Muslim and Christian, who lay dying, slain so quickly they never even had time to get out the first sentence to the Our Father or any other prayer.
I think of their families.
Their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandmothers and grandfathers, grieving now. My heart is heavy for them. How can this be anything but an awful Friday for them?
And I think of the militants who did the killing. The glee and victory they felt in slaughtering the Bright Hope of Kenya – college students, learning, exploring, reading, thinking, imagining, creating.
They put all that Bright Hope on its knees, despairing.
I hear the voices of those students crying out, wailing, those killed and those who survived.
And I can’t help but wonder how it is militants can storm a college campus and take hostage so many, and how a young man with a gun can look his brother or sister in the eyes and think for one second that killing is something to rejoice over.
But isn’t that, ultimately, the message we impart, even here in this post-Christian nation?
Doesn’t the term Good Friday at the very least imply that the Crucifixion was a good thing? Something worth commemorating, if not celebrating?
This slaughtering of an innocent?
Maybe it’s the crime reporter in me. The one who has seen photos of the dead, bloodied and bruised, their fingers and lips, blue and swollen.
I don’t have to see any images from the slaughter in Kenya – indeed haven’t seen even one – to know the horror of what happened.
I hear their cries.
I want to stop the gunmen myself.
I want to yank that mallet from the man driving the nails.
But all I am capable of doing, from here in my office chair this morning, is praying the Our Father myself.
Deliver us from evil.