This is the day when we remember a significant death. And how it changed the world.
i began today, celebrating the start of the Easter weekend, watching the dvd from my best mate Rob Lloyd’s funeral – a collage of photos and some video set to music… it’s been just four months and i miss my friend so much.
His death was significant and it changed my world. There is a Rob-shaped gap that remains and it has not even been easy to find understudies, let alone any one person who can come close to filling that gap. That sounds so much like the kind of thing people say, like “My wife is the best wife in the world” or “To the world’s greatest mom” when clearly she probably isn’t, but you’re really just trying to express that you think she’s great. But with Rob… it’s not like he was my best friend out of all the best friends i have – cos i have some really incredible friends and to ever only call one best would just not be true… but he was one of my very best friends and the role he played in my life was huge. Apart from just being fun and challenging and visionary and great to hang out with, he was there. Especially when it came to Jesus-following things. And now he’s not. And that sucks a whole lot.
Which brings me back to Good Friday… the day when Jesus was crucified.
That seems so harsh, when you know a little of the story…
This man who seemed to be loved by so many, but even more importantly, to love so many – always welcoming people in and making space and time for them.
This man who spoke in beautiful, often mysterious, stories and painted a picture for the crowds of a better way to live, which revolved around love.
Loving God and loving people. Loving your neighbour [who was everyone] and your enemy [in the hope that you would not continue to have one]. Loving the poor and “unlovely”, women and children, the foreigner and the pushed-to-the-side of society.
This man who made blind people see, and lifted the lame out of their beds and sent them on their way, who on a number of occasions even brought people back from the dead.
Now Rob was not perfect in those things but he certainly modelled them, and when i was thinking back to the bad things we could say in the midst of all the good things people tend to say at funerals, i got stuck at “could be a little grumpy or impatient at times”. i mean that is all i have.
If i think about various hockey opponents that have been on the wrong side of me on the hockey field, or various people that have pushed me in arguments on social media, or some church leaders who have been in opposition with me on various topics and even now, some of the race conversations that have happened online, i think people would find it a lot easier to conjure up the bad stuff on me. But when it comes to my mate Rob, the worst i could honestly think of was “could be a little grumpy or impatient at times”.
And so, if there ever was such a thing as death feeling deserved for this person over that person, his death felt completely unjustified. It just was not fair.
Which again brings me back to Jesus hanging on the cross.
There is a part in the video where Rob is speaking, as part of a message he was giving i think, and he spoke about how following Jesus seems to constantly be about struggling with faith and doubt and that it’s not just a case of having figured it out and then it’s all easy and makes sense from then on. You constantly wrestle with it and are looking for God to show up and prove Himself again and reassure you that He is real and that everything is going to ultimately work out in the end.
He believed that he was going to be healed, and that didn’t happen.
Some of the people believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the one who had come to save them and reconcile man to God. And here He is today, hanging on a tree.
What is possibly Good about this Friday?
[Well, you’re going to have to wait til Sunday to find that out]
Except that we see, that even in death, Jesus was still that incredible being.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His clothes by casting lots. [Luke 23.31-34]
Rob, i miss you buddy. You are definitely not forgotten and you are on my mind pretty much every day. i know you would have been first in line to help us move today [and again when we find more permanent accommodation] and i imagine we would have made a plan to watch the cricket together later tonight and eat some pancakes together with bacon.
As for Sunday? Well i’m going to keep holding on for that.