Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Services

Today, much of Christendom will celebrate Good Friday, the day that remembers the Crucifixion of Christ. This is the day that no bread can be consecrated. Many Christians will fast today. Some will fast until Easter morning.

Today I plan to go to the noon Tenebrae service.  It's always strange to go to that service at high noon.  Our church doesn't have many glass windows, but it's still too light in the sanctuary.

I say I plan to go.  I'll be at work, so it's always hard to know if I can be sure I can get away.  Fridays are usually easy days for a noon appointment, but this is the week before a new quarter starts on Monday, so it's hard to know.

It's interesting to think about the Holy Week journeys of past years.  Some years I can get away from work at noon, but other years, no.  Some years I can get to church at night, but other years we've been travelling or had family in town.

I grew up in the kind of family that went to church even when we were on vacation, so even when I haven't attended church regularly, I've always known where we were in the liturgical year. 

Good Friday reminds us of all the ways our hopes can be dashed, of all the ways that we can be betrayed and abandoned, of all the ways that it can all go so terribly wrong. N. T. Wright says, "The greatest religion the world had ever known and the finest system of justice the world had ever known came together to put Jesus on the cross" (How God Became King, page 208).

Good Friday shimmers with meaning. There are some Christians out there who would tell us that if we just pray hard enough, we can avoid the sadness that's out there: our illnesses will go away, wealth will fall into our laps, prosperity of all kinds await us if we just trust in God enough.

The Good Friday story tells a different tale. Even God must suffer in the most horrible ways. God comes to earth to show us a better way of living our human lives, and in return, the most powerful earthly empire crucifies him.

It's good to remember on Good Friday, and during all of our Good Friday times, that God can make beauty out of the most profound ugliness, wholeness out of the most shattered brokenness.

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