A Not So Good Friday

Many years ago on Good Friday I led my congregation in the Service of Shadows, a Baptist version of Tenebrae, a new experience for most of our folks. As people arrived, the lights were low, only the altar area illuminated. Between the scripture and prayers we sang the old hymns, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." Our worship focused on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross symbolized with seven white candles on the communion table draped in black. With each reading, a candle was extinguished until finally the remaining lights came down and just one small candle held back the darkness in our cavernous sanctuary. 

"Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last." - Luke 23:46 NIV  

In the silence the last flicker of light was extinguished. I had prepared our people to leave in the silence finding their way by the exit signs, departing quietly, praying and pondering, in preparation for Easter dawn. I walked out to the foyer and thought it best to step outside so that people wouldn't feel like they needed to shake my hand or speak to me.

I was standing outside in the darkness when I overheard the voices of an older couple heading to the parking lot. He said, "I don't like that sort of thing, so somber and sad. It's like somebody died or something."

What a confused lot we are when it comes to death, shunning the reality, avoiding the subject, even as we are awash in violence and bloodshed, disease and disaster, death on every corner, death dropping by almost daily. Yet, we put on a happy face as best we can and pretend it's not our problem, at least not today. 

I guess our mortality is not a cheery subject, I get that. Most of us would agree with Woody Allen - "It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens."

Well, there's a reason why we call it "Good" Friday. The cross we remember and embrace takes our mortality seriously. The cross of Christ is strong medicine, God's method of extracting our sin and shame, our failure and futility, and infusing these mortal lives with an indestructible spirit, an unquenchable light that can stand against the darkness within us and around us. That's good news, isn't it? Maybe the best news of all.

Yep. Somebody died or something. Praise God. 


RemoAnn said…
Thanks for this! It's nice to get some thoughts from you again.
RemoAnn Fain

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