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Holding to hope this Easter

Pastor Randy Speyer, Mission Director Spirit, Show on Corporate Home

One of my favorite Good Friday sermons is called, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming.” I first heard it in a sermon preached by sociologist, author and pastor, Dr. Tony Campolo, one of his most inspirational and well-known sermons. The original sermon has been traced to San Diego, California and Baptist Pastor S. M. Lockridge. Here is just a sampling from Campolo Center for Ministry:

It’s Friday… Jesus was nailed dead on a cross. But it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming!

It’s Friday… Mary’s crying her eyes out ‘cause her Jesus is dead. But it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming!

It’s Friday… The disciples are running around like sheep without a shepherd. But it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming!

It’s Friday… People are saying “as things have been so they shall be – you can’t change anything in this world.” But it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming!

It’s Friday… Satan’s doing a jig saying, “I control the whole world.” But it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming!

It’s Friday… The temple veil ripped from top to bottom -the earth shook- the rocks split and tombs opened. The centurion screamed in fear, “Truly, He is the Son of God!” But it’s only Friday; Sunday’s coming!

And now, it’s Sunday. “The angel, like dazzling lightning, rolled the stone away exclaiming, “He is not here! He is risen!”

At the end of the message Tony shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s coming!

On April 5, the U.S. surgeon general said this week is going to be the “hardest and the saddest” for “most Americans’ lives,” describing the upcoming grim period of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States as a “Pearl Harbor moment” and a “9/11 moment.” In too many ways, this global pandemic has felt like Friday once again. Darkness and doubt are everywhere. Perhaps you have doubts. Perhaps you could use a reminder.

Let’s return to that scene for just a moment. Jesus lies in the tomb, his body lifeless. Death has claimed the Giver of life. The blind man. The woman who clutched at his garment. The leper. The demoniac. Each would have traded health for just one breath from Jesus.

Then Sunday arrives. Everything changes. The tomb stands empty. Light and life breathes once again. Hell is overcome by hope. And even in this present darkness, we see glimpses of resurrection. The practice of resurrection involves paying attention and engaging.

This is happening now. Countless acts of goodness, kindness, and heroism are taking place all over as the world battles COVID-19. Amid the darkness, people are out there loving and caring for each other. He is here; He is risen.

Yes, it feels like Friday once again. But be assured, Sunday is coming. Because of the resurrection, everything changes.

About the author: Pastor Randy Speyer is the director of mission and spiritual care at Adventist Health in Roseville. He has served as ordained pastor and licensed counselor to faith communities for over 30 years, seeking to tell the Jesus story with imagination and wonder.