Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Good Friday is a weird name for the day that a fiercely determined, infinitely loving, and wrongly convicted prophet of the Lord died a painful death on a cross. Often it's observed that there isn't much "good" about that sequence of events.

Kind-hearted Christians will patiently explain that Jesus' death was indeed a good thing because it opened the door for his resurrection three days later, in which God reveals that death is not the end.

True enough. But the name of Good Friday still strikes me as strange.

Honestly, I find the whole day a bit disjointed and uncomfortable. When I was growing up, the local Catholic kids used to insist that we weren't allowed to talk between the hours of noon to three p.m., when Jesus hung on the cross and the sky turned black as night. That used to freak me out so much.

When my kids were young, I was challenged to find ways to explain the day's events to each of my girls, at each tender age and developmental stage, in a way that would be honest and interesting without overwhelming her current ability to understand. That was always a stressful juggling act, and I worried about causing night terrors and a lifetime aversion to jelly beans.

Good Fridays are easier now that my daughters are grown, and I can simply enjoy my Good Friday worship experience without filtering or interpreting it for the G audience. But I have to admit that as I sat in my chair at church tonight, holding a heavy eight inch iron stake like the one that was used to pound Jesus' hands and feet to the wooden cross that probably looked an awful lot like the timber that lay on the floor in front of me, I felt that same edgy, unsettled feeling that has always haunted me on this bleak day.

Thankfully, tradition has provided a nice diversion from contemplating death and torture: behold the hot cross bun.


This sweet little treat has a long history of association with Lent - the forty-day period leading up to Easter - and more specifically, with Good Friday. The tradition of making baked goods with a cross may go all the way back to the Greeks, though the mists of time have obscured the true origins of this bold little bun.

But there's no mystery about what makes hot cross buns so tasty. 


Spices. Lots of yummy, harmonious spices that gently flavor the basic dough to create a delicately sweet treat. When it comes to choosing the specific spices, there's plenty of room for experimentation and variety. For this batch, I used cinnamon, cardamon, allspice and nutmeg. 


Most recipes also call for raisins, currants, or other bits of dried fruit but I am a spice-and-dough purist. Slowly kneading the spices into the dough introduces subtle layers of flavor, and for my money, a few brazen bits of fruit will overwhelm the entire creation and dominate my taste buds. That's not gonna happen on my watch, buddy boy. I advocate for spice rights, and I don't allow fruit bullies anywhere near my hot cross buns.


So this afternoon, as the divine mystery of Good Friday played itself out in my head and my heart, my hands were happily occupied with this time-honored task. And while there is no easy way to explain away the darkness of Jesus' death on the cross, it's all a lot easier for me to bear when I'm munching on a fresh hot cross bun.

I used The Pioneer Woman's guidance for my hot cross buns and as usual, her recipe knocked it out of the park. I recommend it highly.


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More Easter stories? Yes.

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