This coming Friday we have the wonderful opportunity to gather as a church for a somber, reflective service to meditate on the significance of the Cross of Jesus. For many in our church this proves to be the most impactful service of the year. Others may be new to our church or not familiar with the concept of a Good Friday service, so it may be helpful to give a brief explanation of why our church sets aside this time for a special worship service.
Our society tends to focus on what feels exciting, upbeat, and happy. But, as Frederick Buechner has said, “The Gospel is bad news before it is Good News.” Good Friday is a service that zeroes in on the bad news of the Gospel—the fact that our sin is grievous enough that God the Father had to send His Son to die in our place. In this service we remind ourselves that Friday comes before Sunday. The only path to the jubilation of Easter goes through the agony of Golgotha.
Therefore, our Good Friday service has a completely different feel than every other time we gather. As we read through the account of the crucifixion (this year in the Gospel of Mark), we pause for moments of prayer, reflection, and silence. The silence in particular engages our senses in a manner that is unique for our day in age. In the awkwardness of silence we are confronted with the fact that our sin was the reason Jesus came to die. The absence of light is another sense that is effected in this service. As the evening progresses the room gets progressively darker, reminding us of the spiritual darkness we are in apart from Christ. And when we finally get up to leave, in the dark, we do so in complete silence, symbolic of our complicity in the murder of the Son of God.
Communion is the culmination of this service, the tangible reminder of the body of Jesus broken for us and His blood shed for us. When we partake of the elements we do so while being handed the bread and juice from a member of our church who uses our personal name to remind us that the death of Jesus was for us in particular. All of this is designed to remind us that, in the words of John Stott, “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”
The heaviness of this service is not the end of the story, though! Sunday is indeed coming, and our intentionality on Friday serves to multiply the joy that we feel celebrating the resurrection! So, please join us this Friday, April 7th, at 6:00pm (with missio: Kids) or 7:30 (no missio: Kids) to reflect on the beauty—and brutality—of the crucifixion of Jesus.