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Though Easter is behind us now, there was still one aspect I wanted to write about.
This will sound strange but my church doesn’t hold a Good Friday service. We have Good Friday and Easter Sunday in one service on Sunday. Funnily enough, it works well and is the only time where we have communion which isn't on the first Sunday of the month. Years ago, one of our members ensured there were plenty of Easter eggs to go around too. He is much missed by us but not just for that!
I suspect because my church is in a village with farms nearby, there may have been a practical reason for no Good Friday service, though this is an intelligent guess on my part. Everyone would have gone to church on Sunday so it would’ve made sense to celebrate the whole of Easter in one special service. Friday would be a working day in the fields etc.
I like to go to church on Good Friday so I pay an annual visit to a local Church of England church for their reflective family service. (I also think it a good idea to visit other churches sometimes anyway).
The church here has a simple visual aid for Good Friday. They drape a huge black cover over the wooden cross (which I assume they just take down for Easter Sunday). There is something in the way in which the material falls that makes it easy to visualise someone dying/dead beneath it. It is very effective. I find my eyes drawn to the cross on entering the church. Seeing the cloth, imagining Jesus behind it, I am reminded forgiveness comes at a heavy price.
Being familiar with stories is comforting but also dangerous given it is easy to become complacent. Finding the balance between loving the familiar stories yet at the same time not taking them for granted isn’t always easy.
One other thing I like when I visit this church is the use of the piano, as opposed to the organ. I think the piano has a mournful quality, which is so appropriate for There is A Green Hill, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross etc.
I sometimes wonder if there is a temptation to focus on Easter Sunday with all its joys and not on Good Friday so much because who would want by choice to focus on pain, suffering, and death?
The challenge I think is to recall there can be no joy had Jesus not gone through the pain first. Given this, should we be surprised at life’s dark moments? Shocked, yes. (The capacity for evil should always shock). Surprised, no. We do need redeeming.
But where there is rain, there is the sunshine again. The comfort is knowing our Lord knows all about pain, stress, and distress. He has been through it. In times of trouble that is a very comforting thought. He cried out to God. So should we. Always.