Open Scripture John 18:1-19:42
Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 19:41
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I wrote this Good Friday reflection several years ago. I repost it each year. But this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I read the words with a different lens. “Potatoes” take on an entirely new meaning. During this time of “sheltering in place” in my home in metro Phoenix, smack-dab in the middle of almost 5 million people, I wish I was living on the farm in Iowa where I grew up. I know we would be secure with enough food and water for our family, plus plenty to share –especially potatoes.
Whether you are “sheltering in place” in an urban, suburban or rural area; whether you first experienced the Passion Story a year ago or 70 years ago; what are your Good Friday memories, metaphors, symbols –if any? How to these images serve you now, in such a time as this? What specific foods have you stored and stocked up on? Are you planting a garden –maybe just some herbs in small pots near a window? Share your story… with those you are sharing shelter and with those whom you are connecting using social media tools. – linda
God’s Story. My story.
Reading the Passion Story in John floods me with memories and images from my childhood. The annual Good Friday ritual of closing school before noon produced a sense of anticipation. Cars and pickups, bumper-to-bumper like train cars, waiting curb-side to take sons and daughters to worship services throughout the community. It seemed simultaneously strange and important to join my parents, siblings, elders and friends at noon, on a week day, in our white, clapboard building with a tall steeple, marking its spot on the edge of town.
Worship was always serious. Good Friday was somber. Our Pastor covered head to toe in layers of black. The too frequent, dissonant organ chord mistakenly played on Sundays seemed perfectly suited for the tenor of the hour. The heaviness of the scripture reading, and hymns sung even more slowly than usual, created an air of awe, fear and dread. The gruesome details of Christ’s death triggered shivers of the unimaginable: my own death or those in my family. Luminous, dark clouds, thunder and rain often added to the drama. Walking to the car in silence, heads down. No words exchanged, not even “hello” to my grandparents.
My father drove us five miles north on pavement, two more east on gravel, down the hill, into the valley, over the bridge, to our farm. We changed clothes. Then planted potatoes. Yes, every Good Friday we planted potatoes . . . or at least that is how I remember it. Small pieces of potatoes, each with an eye (buds that will start the growth of a new plant), dropped deep into the overturned, black, moist earth.
In the fall, the multitude of plump tubers were plowed up. With dirt clinging tightly to the roots, the potatoes were thrown into a wood wagon with worn, green sideboards added to receive the bounty . . . pulled to my grandparents farm, and delivered to the grave-like cellar.
During the winter months the cave doors were periodically thrown open. My grandpa would descend into the damp, underground, spider-web encased cave, and reappear with life-sustaining potatoes . . . enough for us, our extended family, and neighbors.
Church connected to home and daily life. God’s story through Jesus –and potatoes –becoming my story! A story of life that comes from death, and profound love, so all the world may be fed.
Jesus, be in our remembering, in a renewed understanding and fresh retelling.