I went to my very first Good Friday service this morning. Even though I've always gone to church, originally with my mother and sisters to the United Church of Canada and for the last 25 years to a Baptist church, I've not wanted to go to the Good Friday service. I thought it would be so dark, morose, sorrowful, and depressing. However, I went this morning and instead of being all those things, I felt rejuvenated, gladdened, and favoured as one of God's children.
When we arrived this morning, everyone came in quietly, almost as though we were attending a funeral. A huge wooden cross stood in the centre of the room with chairs placed in a circular pattern surrounding it. The screen flashed images of Jesus on the cross while soft music played in the background. I go to a small church and everyone participated in some way. Everyone sang, of course, and some read scripture or a reading, while others prayed. We also took communion.
At one point, we watched a video clip that reflected the Gospel of John 19:9-37. This is when Jesus was standing before Pilate after having been whipped and crowned with thorns. We watched as Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifiction and then had to carry his cross all the way to Golgotha where he died a vicious and cruel death. Did you know that the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two men who were crucified along with Jesus simply because it was getting late and they wanted to hurry up the process? And when they realised that Jesus was already dead, one of them pierced his body with a spear?
It is only when you see with your own eyes a depiction of what was done to Him that you can truly understand the sacrifice He made for us, even two thousand years later. As Reverend Billy Lobbs writes, "Does God really love us? I say look to the crucified Jesus. Look to the old rugged cross. By every thorn that punctured His brow. By every mark of the back-lacerating scourge. By every hair of his beard pucked from His cheeks by cruel fingers. By every bruise which heavy fists made upon His head. God said, 'I love you!' By all the spit that landed on His face. By every drop of sinless blood that fell to the ground. By every breath of pain which Jesus drew upon the cross. By every beat of His loving heart. God said, 'I love you.'"
I am feeling solemn and reverent right now, pensive and reflective of all I've been taught as a Christian. We are the only religion that celebrates the death of our leader because it was through His death that we have been saved. Yes, we suffer but I rely on my God who knows what suffering is all about through His own human experience. Do we understand our own suffering? Not always. But through His sacrifice on the cross we see into the heart of God and find it filled with mercy for all.
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, will He not also give us all things with Him?" Romans 8:32