I have a pretty set routine for Fridays. I get up, make breakfast and say goodbye to my wife as she heads to work. I take my daughter to school, then usually do the food shopping. At some point I end up finishing work that did not get done (even though Friday is my day off). But today is different. Today I spend more time focused on one thing. Today is Good Friday, a day we remember Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
Some churches do not hold Good Friday services. Some do, but many Christians do not attend. And that is a shame. Yes I know, its another day or night at the church after a special Palm Sunday service and possibly Maundy Thursday service (are we really that busy that we cannot spend one more hour in worship?). I know there are so many other things going on. But is it right to go from the celebration of Palm Sunday to the celebration of Easter without going through Golgatha? Let us stop for a moment and think about one thing…Jesus.
Good Friday is the most solemn day on the church calendar. It is a day that we stop to consider His death for us. It is not a day to celebrate, rather a day to remember. It is a day to focus on His passion, His pain and His love. It is important.
Today, even if you do not attend a service, please read one of the gospel accounts of the passion. Please stop for a little time and consider what Jesus went through for you. Please take a moment and give thanks for what God has done, is doing and will do for you. And may your Good Friday be one of significant blessings.
To read the Gospel of John’s account of the passion, click here
My wife cut up some bread into cubes to take to her workplace. There she will conduct two Maundy/Holy Thursday services.
I will go to the church building and prepare my service as well. We’ve reset the sanctuary to look different, creating a special atmosphere, because tonight is a special service.
Well, tonight, Friday night and Sunday morning are all very special services that tell the most important story.
If you are not aware of the essential Christian story, it is told in three days – Maundy Thursday, the day in which Jesus gives us the mandate to love one another as He loves us, and the Lord’s Supper. Good Friday, the day Jesus lays down His life for us and Easter Sunday, the day of Resurrection. Three days that tell the story.
And you know what? You don’t have to fully understand to take part. You don’t have to understand exactly what happens to the bread and the wine when we take it. You don’t have to understand why Jesus willingly sacrificed His life for us. You don’t have to even fully understand the resurrection. After all, there are many questions surrounding all these things – but that is what the journey of faith is about – exploring the questions of the intersection of God and ourselves.
So often Christianity gets a bad rap about what we stand against. Maybe you shy away from church because you were shamed, or made to feel bad about yourself. Maybe you just don’t like “organized religion”, or you are one of the many people I’ve encountered who just never quite understood what was going on. Come tonight. Be present with us as we explore the sacred mysteries of Communion. Come Friday night and hear the story of Jesus going to the cross. Then celebrate with us on Sunday morning as we shout out the oldest statement of faith in Christianity, “He is Risen!”
And if you don’t get it, that is fine. At least come and start the journey. After all, the journey is what it’s all about.
In like a lion…
…out like a lamb
March has traditionally been described this way as the month starts off wintry and ends with spring.
Okay I know, as I write this on March 20th (the first day of spring), we are expecting ANOTHER winter storm filled with ice and snow. Bear with me for a moment as this is not about March or the weather. It’s about Jesus.
We began March with the gospel story of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple. The lectionary text was John 2:13-25 where Jesus “made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” Pretty lion like, isn’t it?
But look at how March will end. Friday March 30th is Good Friday and the gospel text comes from John chapters 18 and 19 where Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb, is crucified. The gospel story ends “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” Out like a lamb.
I’ve thought about this over the past few weeks as I’ve focused a lot on the authority of Jesus in my sermons. His surprising actions in the temple often shock people (and certainly changes that phrase “what would Jesus do?). But then again, for the people of Jesus’ day, his actions were certainly shocking. I’m sure some loved his actions in the temple as it signaled Jesus’ change from “nice guy preacher” to Messianic Warrior about to overthrow the Roman occupation.
But that isn’t what Jesus did. During that last week of his life, Jesus entered into Jerusalem as a King, cleansed the temple as a Prophet, wept over the city as a loving friend, washed his disciples’ feet as a servant, reimagined the Passover as a mystic and sacrificed his life for ours, as a savior.
In like a lion and out like a lamb. And the world will never be the same.