Summary: Why a crass 2017 advert from Tesco may be wrong but can help us understand what is really Good about Good Friday. (a short sermon for an outdoor service)
“Great offers on Beer and Cider. Good Friday just got better” That if you have not seen it is the advertisment that Tesco have been tweeting all over the internet “Great offers on Beer and Cider. Good Friday just got better” Now I’m an Anglo-Catholic. We do partying Heck I even run a biblestudy each week in the local pub. But there’s a time and a place….
You see Tesco don’t get what makes Good Friday GOOD.
Which makes me think of two different Fridays. There is an annual Friday which until 2014 none of us had probably ever heard of - but which now you cannot escape - BLACK FRIDAY Who here has heard of Black Friday? Black Friday is an American festival of avarice that has crept into the English callendar.
Now if you knew nothing and had to guess you might reasonably guess that Good Friday was a time of partying and that Black Friday was a time of mourning. If you were an alien landing in London you might well think that Black Friday was the day when Jesus died and Good Friday was a day for cut price deals - maybe even “Great offers on Beer and Cider” but that is to misunderstand what is black about Black Friday and what is good about Good Friday.
Black Friday always strikes me as very strange. On the Thursday Americans celebrate Thanksgiving - giving thanks for all the wonderful things God has provided for them just the early Pilgrim Fathers did. Aren’t they lucky not to be starving, to have food on their plates, rooves above their heads, family to share fun with. On thanksgiving they remember not to take these things for granted and to say thank you. Then the next day - Black Friday - they rush to the shops to buy stuff - more stuff and even more stuff. You didn’t even know it existed, but now you NEED it. And that is what is Black about Black Friday. And sadly while Thanksgiving has not come to the UK, Black Friday has. Because we live in a society where people are deeply unhappy because they constantly feel they have to have more. Money can make you happy if you do the right thing with it. Giving money away has been proven to make people happy. But buying things is like taking crack cocaine. It gives you a high for a day or two and then you are just as unhappy as you were before and the only way to get the high again is to buy even more stuff.
Good Friday is different. Yes Tescos - Good Friday is about a Great Offer - but it is not about a Great Offer on Beer or Cider. It is about an offer that is much greater than that. An offer so great that rather than having a lie in and staying in bed on a bank holiday Friday morning, Christians think that offer so great that they climb to the top of Northalla Hills to sing and shout about it. An offer so great that rather than eating ordinary buns on this day Christians daub them with the symbol of that offer.
The offer that comes from Jesus dying on the cross. Forgiveness of for the messes we have made of our lives, intimate VIP access to God, and a ticket to immortality. Some people will tell you that this is a Free Offer. That Christianity offers you a free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Let me tell you forgiveness is NOT free. Eternal Life is NOT free.
It’s like yesterday. I had lunch with my friend James at cafe rouge. I went to the toilet and came back and found that James had paid the whole bill. Now that did not make the meal free. Actually it was quite an expensive bill. But James picked up the whole tab.
So it is with Good Friday. Forgiveness is NOT free. Eternal Life is NOT free. Intimate acess to God is NOT free. There’s a cost. The bill is …. Not just expensive, but a price none of us could afford to pay. But as I said - yes Tesco - Good Friday is about a great offer. And the great offer is that Jesus has picked up the tab. This inifinitely costly thing - Jesus has paid the whole bill. On the cross Jesus pays - so we might be forgiven. For everything. So that death - and we all know how tragic death is - but that so that death might be followed by new life. So that loneliness might be replaced with intimate access to the one friend who will NEVER let us down. Jesus picks up the whole tab. By his death Jesus pays the whole price. And that is why Good Friday is good