Friday, April 22, 2011

I Laugh On Good Friday

If Good Friday and I were to have a relationship status on Facebook... it would be "It's Complicated."

It is the one worship service in the year that I want to laugh and cry at the same time - then I feel guilty about it.

The Tenenbrae service on Good Friday is one of the most beautiful and powerful churches services. I love it.

It is the service of darkness or shadows. There are seven candles lined up at the altar in front, along with the Christ candle. As the service goes on and as you hear the story of Christ's crucifixion the candles one by one go out, making the sanctuary darker and darker. It helps us to remember the pain and suffering Jesus went through. The darkness he went through. Then at the very end the Christ candle gets carried out through the center isle - representing Christ departing this world. It's such a powerful image. It's the reverse of the candlelight service on Christmas eve.

At that service we have the candles lined up, but instead of going out we light them. Then the Christ candle is lit and brought into the sanctuary - to show that he has finally come! At last, Jesus has arrived! The light of the world is here!So having the opposite happen is incredibly powerful and moving. Christ had died - he is gone. The light has gone out.

At my church, someone sings this song:

Hearing this song, and singing the old hymns... it brings tears to my eyes. I want to cry, thinking of all Jesus did for me, for the world, and how much he loves us. I feel like a child who wants to crawl into her daddy's lap and cry. I want comfort for myself - but I want to comfort him as well.

But then . . . in the next moment . . . I want to laugh. You might think this is inappropriate - but let me explain.

The reason I want to laugh is because - I'M TERRIFIED.

As much as I love the tenenbrae service it terrifies me. When I sat down next to one of my seniors in high school she said that she was glad I was there because then she wouldn't be the only one jumping out of her seat out of fear. Some of the youth know very well how scared I get during this service. One of them even laughed at me all night last year because I ended up sitting outside of the sanctuary the entire time hoping I wouldn't be as scared.

It didn't work.

Why does it scare me you ask? Well.... I tend to be a very jumpy person, and they like to make loud noises on Good Friday. At least at my church.

First - as they are reading the different parts of the passion story, when they get to when Jesus is nailed to the cross they proceed to pound (very loudly and into a microphone) three nails into a piece of wood. Then when they are reading the seven last sentences Jesus spoke the pastor YELLS "MY GOD MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

But last . . . and most terrifying . . . is the end. The Christ candle is taken out of the church. It's like Silent Night. "Silent night, holy night, all is calm -"


Pastor YELLS "MY GOD MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME" (again) then slams the Bible shut.

Making me jump nearly a foot out of my seat. You can imagine what it was like my first Good Friday at my church when I had no idea what was going on. I think I had three heart-attacks in one hour that night.

"WHAT? Why is he screaming?????"

I think of this through the service - and I start to laugh at how ridiculous I am. But then... when I go back to the songs, the words, the darkness, I want to cry again.

I told you it was complicated.

I have Tenenbrae Bi-Polar Disorder.

Yet... it's still such a beautiful, sad, terrifying, night. Through all of the jumping a foot out of the pew at least three times . . .it's worth it. Feeling the sadness, the tears, the darkness... without that... we couldn't know the joy of Sunday morning. We wouldn't know the full extent of God's love for us. Going through it all with Jesus, it touches us. It shows us that even when our focus is on when the heck they are going to slam the Bible shut so we can just get it over with and not on Christ - he still loves us. He still sacrificed for us. We still have Sunday morning.

So embrace the darkness. Embrace the terror. Embrace it all. Because Sunday is coming.

And then Jesus cried out once more, loudly, and then He breathed His last breath. At that instant, the temple curtain was torn in half, from top to bottom. The earth shook; rocks split in two; tombs burst open, and bodies of many sleeping holy women and men were raised up. After Jesus' resurrection, they came out of their tombs, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and showed themselves to people.

When the Centurian and soldiers who had been charged with guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw the rocks splitting and the tombs opening, they were, of course, terrified. 

Soldiers: He really was God's Son.

Matthew 27:50-54 The Voice

1 comment:

  1. aw. How beautiful. I love it. This is my first REAL easter. MY first real easter knowing exactly what this holiday was founded upon. It is so beautiful to know that SUNDAY our LORD is remembered as not being found. His body vanished. The greatest mystery to the non-believing world yet we know where the spirit of the Lord is. And we know that no tomb could keep our savior away. And the think that He is gone with all the soldiers who stood outside his tomb guarding in case the disciples tried to take him... such a great and powerful mystery to know he is ALIVE and that death is defeated and that WE, we are the keepers of this mystery and called to share it and live it for all to see..

    I pray God works through me and my heart and that people would truly understand His great resurrection...



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