Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good Friday Provokes Change

I didn’t go to a Good Friday service until I was in my thirties. I like to think I had good reason, one being there was more than one church in our pastoral charge and the high services were always in the local town church. I guess I thought that everything we needed was given to us where we were. That meant as a child and young woman, I went directly from waving palm branches, singing Hosannas and getting in the Palm Sunday parade to the trumpets and Hallelujah songs of Easter Sunday.

As well, in our farming community, we didn’t have the advantage of any Holy week meditations, luncheons or supportive gatherings to take us through the various events of Jesus’ last week. As well I'd never attended a Maundy Thursday meal. Perhaps because we didn’t have the advantage of participating in these services in our little church, I should mention that as a child and later as a teacher, these events were always highlighted and taught both in Sunday school and in worship.

So it wasn’t that I didn’t know about the events of Holy Week, it was just that I’d never experienced them. I remember the precise day this changed when I phoned a friend and suggested we go into the town church to a Good Friday service. We were always made welcome in our sister church, but that didn’t entirely lift us from knowing we were from the country church – we were the rural folks. I remember admitting this was the most sorrowful, grief-stricken service I’d ever attended in my whole life. I also came home thinking, “Man, those town people really take all of this serious.” I also came home claiming because of the tone of the service that I’d never, ever, go to another Good Friday service.

And if the truth be known, I have to admit that I’ve never missed a Good Friday service since. The reason being, the experience of Good Friday changed Easter Sunday for me forever. Musical scores and lyrics were more meaningful, lilies were whiter, scripture spoke clearer and even the candles burned brighter. For me, experiencing Holy week changed my life. The privilege of being led through the event and later walking the Stations of the Cross put me into the crowd. And when I sang, “Where you there when they crucified my Lord”, I knew that my attitudes were reflected in the crowd, my fears were similar to their fears and the tone of my voice reflected other voices raised on that day — that changed Christendom forever. Yet now, we are blessed with salvation and sacraments, discipleship and the Body of Christ, fellowship and commitment, the Spirit and the reality once again of beauty for ashes.

Is 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, . . . “
May your Good Friday be very good . . .
Donna Mann


Peter Black said...

Love it, Donna!

I've long considered that many of us in Evangelical fellowships have missed a wonderful opportunity to deepen and grow in appreciation of the triumph encapsulated in our celebrations of Easter / Resurrection Sunday, by failing to follow closely our Lord's path to the Cross, as commemorated on Good Friday. (Mustn't generalize, of course.)

Donna Mann said...

Thank you Peter - as usual your words are heartwarming.

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