Is it a good Friday this year? It is certainly very different from the usual occasion of processions and prayers as many find themselves in lockdown and others under various degrees of restriction. Here in Malawi restrictions are steadily tightening after the first confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported a week ago.
Our usual Holy Week experience is one of identifying with the suffering of Christ in the knowledge that by the end of the week we will be celebrating resurrection. As coronavirus takes hold in our nations and communities the first part is all too vivid but it is hard to see the way forward to the second.
As the virus scatters most of our usual thinking and faces us with our fragility and mortality, perhaps it is time to discover yet more deeply the meaning of the crucifixion of Christ. The African theologian Gabriel Setiloane was once pondering what Jesus means to the people of Africa and came to this conclusion:
And yet for us it is when He is on the cross,
This Jesus of Nazareth, with holed hands and
open side, like a beast at a sacrifice:
When he is stripped, naked like us,
Browned and sweating water and blood in the
heat of the sun,
That we cannot resist Him.
Perhaps it will be so not only for Africans but for all of us in this year of COVID-19.