Devotional — Good Friday at the beach

Published 4:51 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

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must make a confession: in the middle of this uberbusy time of the preacher’s calendar, I took a vacation – just a few days and it was the week before you are reading this. It was also not over a Sunday. Easter tends to hit my family’s birthdays together. My two older daughters and my wife all have their birthdays within a few weeks of this time. This was our shot to do something as a family, and we have not gone out together since the pandemic started. Why am I sharing this?

We are at the beach as you can see from the picture, specifically Virginia Beach. In this offseason time, it is strangely quiet for the beach. The only noise is the surf, and most of the people around are also quietly walking dogs or strolling the beach, but there are not many of us here. I don’t see people as I would at home. It is a jarring experience of quiet and isolation compared to what I am used to finding at the beach when things are buzzing in the summer.

In some ways, it takes me to how I feel about Good Friday. This is an empty day of quiet and isolation, sadness and waiting. This is a holding day when the disciples were powerless but to watch the greatest travesty of the world, an injustice that they only just began to grasp. In despair, they could do nothing but wait and anticipate in fearful isolation what the world might bring next.

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Certainly, they were caught up in feelings which I cannot truly understand or even articulate. They were in a state of desperate despair that also does not reflect my heart with my family in this pleasant time of rest. No, our experiences are radically different, but the feelings of differentness, isolation from the world, silence, and waiting all make me think of this day.

There is a powerful and profound effect from this kind of waiting. It takes us away from the routines of our lives and compels us to wait in difference. The disciples all did know that their lives were forever altered. No one could go back to the way things were. There was no undoing all that they had shared. They were changed people; they just did not know how changed.

In this time of unusual waiting, we remember this day the great silence that fell following Jesus’ death. We also remember how our lives today grapple with isolation, waiting, and the non-normal that is becoming more normal. We will never be able to go back. We can never be the same people, again, but God is doing something even in this moment. Something new is coming. That I absolutely believe. Wait with me, friends, for God’s coming glory.

Rev. Dr. Peter Smith is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at