Good day to honor ‘life of awe’

One of the Webster’s Dictionary definitions for the word “atonement” is “the reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.”

In reflecting on the events of the first Good Friday about 2,000 years ago, today’s Christians are more inclined to say simply that Jesus suffered and died on the Cross on Calvary because of mankind’s sins.

Actually, there are many ways to express that same thought, and many central Pennsylvania residents will be reminded of some of them while attending today’s church services that are part of their Lenten journey toward Sunday’s joyous Easter celebration.

Writers and scripture have described the first Good Friday as having been the start of the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Christians have continued to proclaim Good Friday as part of a decisive turning point for all creation.

It’s unfortunate that there are so many peoples and nations today who ignore Good Friday’s message and importance, and fail to partake in the many aspects of spiritual healing that the day offers.

People of central Pennsylvania are saddened by the violence and suffering that afflict many parts of the world, and America hasn’t escaped suffering, having at times been counted among violence’s and hatred’s victims.

Nevertheless, people here live in awe over the teachings of how Jesus’ death became the culmination of God’s plan to save people from their sins.

Therefore, today, as they remember and commemorate that day when Jesus suffered and died, they also live in hope for a better world — a time when warring and hate-filled nations and their leaders come to their senses on behalf of themselves as well as others.

Such a possibility seems so remote, but hope must remain uninterrupted in all of us.

Scripture makes clear that the happenings on the first Good Friday had to occur to enable the world to experience the joy of Easter. Calvary was not only a place of suffering, but also of forgiveness, of which mankind had — and continues to have — great need.

An editorial should not try to persuade people to ascribe to any certain religion or religious philosophy, or even to become associated with any religion at all.

However, a message many members of the clergy have continued to deliver to their congregations over many years remains apropos to believers and non-believers alike.

It is that everyone and the world would benefit greatly if people lived today as if it were destined to be their last Good Friday — using this day as an opportunity to make great strides on the foundation of forgiveness and great love that Jesus put in place when he was nailed to the cross.

The meditation, repentance, fasting and prayer that are important elements of the Good Friday observance provide the opportunities and means to work toward that objective.

Central Pennsylvania is a region with strong religious beliefs built upon many faiths.

As such, it is a region unlikely to ever embrace an attitude of rejection toward the great sacrifice Jesus made, not only on behalf of people here, but for people everywhere.

That definition of “atonement” will remain alive forever.