Many ideas, readings, pictures, places, and occasions are here. It is unlikely that all of them will hold interest to you. Take what you need. Leave the rest.There are options all over the world and your life to assist or even accompany your Good Friday Reflections. Like taking a walk while noticing the ending of winter and connecting it to the ending of other things.
Or do the same ol' thing as any other Friday, only wear a small bell and look for God's presence every time it rings (thank you Jackie Danner).
Or let a prayer bracelet spur the same discipline (thank you Rev. Amy).
Start by reminding your self of Maundy Thursday. The story might start there.
Come to the Working Chapel:
The Working Chapel is open all day.
There is the Labyrinth to focus your soul.
There are Sand Tables to express your spirit.
Prayer Rail for considering.
Mandalas to visually spur you spirit.
Ambiance to quiet you.
Worship ServiceIf you simply like and want a bit of liturgy and some hymns:
If you want structure and people around you:
let me suggest worshiping with a friend and trusted colleague.
March 29 at 7:00pm
Special MusicConsider music to unlock new thoughts and open a portal for some new thoughts. Kevin Brown has created this music, a 4 part piece compilation called "secret shadowed geographies". He says, "it is a sort of sonic Tenebrae".
Listen. I mean really listen to this. As in, do not do anything else. Just listen. Notice your breath coming in and going out. Avoid controlling your thoughts. Listen. With your breath coming in and going out; let words flow through your mind without controlling what your mind does with them.
Offered with Kevin's permission and our awe.
Maybe one word as your breath comes in.
Maybe another word as your breath comes out.
fear ... love
branch ... leaf
lost ... full
sunset ... moonrise
lonely ... God
hurt ... whole
yesterday ... now
cramp ... hope
charcoal ... green
God's Friday ...
Just float on top of the music. Just listen.
Notice your breath coming in and going out.
Avoid controlling your thoughts.
And soon it will be Easter morning.
A sunrise, even if it is hidden .
The Final Steps of a Lenten Journey
Take these final steps on your own.
Visuals might help you to reflect on the chaos of Good Friday. There are so many symbols: a meal left in a hurry, a thorny crown, a purple cloak, a spear, drying left over palms, dirty water and a stained towel from washing feet, a rough wooden cross, a sword, a whip, nails, 30 pieces of blood money. And death. Certainly death.
They came to arrest Jesus. We are told of a Disciple who heard his teachings, saw his miracles, helped him to transform people, and even ate the last Supper, who then pulls out a sword and attacks a guard. “Blessed are the peacemakers” is forgotten when life and death are at an end.
Does it scare you that someone who was so close to Jesus and all that he did and said did not seem to understand that violence is not the answer? Does the story of this sword make you realize that you too might use force for some good end?
Maybe it is easier to see that we could not force other nations and peoples to follow our God or our understanding government. But do we over look our own actions near at hand? Does it scare you that you find there are times when you want to force your opinion, your motion, your plan on the rest of the church? Does it hurt you that there are times that you do more than WANT to control an outcome in the church? There times when you just keep arguing - or argue in such a way that no one wants to stand before you because of your sword like tongue. Have you mobilized an effort to cut through opposition and bring the resolution that you want at the time that you want without checking with Jesus and his values, teachings, or love?
True, that can just be about ideas and directions. What about your family? Children, parents, spouse, siblings sometimes just need to be pushed to do the right thing. It is only a shove in the right direction we tell ourselves. There are times when you have assumed that you know all you need to in order to decide what should happen. And so you force the issue. For their good.
The sword is the force we use to get what we want or to protect what we think of as important. Our tongue, our words, our energy, our anger, and sometimes our money are all put to use as a forceful sword to make the guards go away, and to let us win.
This is not the sword of justice. And Jesus turns to you and tells you to put the sword down. No more forcing your own way. The Way is not that way, not ever our way.
Three times strangers asked Peter if he was a follower of Jesus. Three times he said NO. He did not want his name associated with Jesus. He said he did not even know this man Jesus. He adds a curse with his last denial.
How about it? Have you ever heard anyone speak poorly of the church and not mentioned that you belong to one? Even when the church richly deserves the bad name that it has created, the question is are we willing to still be associated with it and let people know that you do have a church home. Peter risked arrest, pain, and death. We risk the negative opinion of others and we seemingly value their opinion higher than the opinion of Jesus. Do you hear the cock crow?
Have you ever cast a vote for an issue or a candidate based on how the vote will save you money, or protect your investment, keep something the same, or someone way from your back yard? Here we are giving a heightened value to our interests and denying that Jesus is our leader. We ask what is good for us and not what Jesus has said is good. Do you hear the the cock crow a second time?
What about when you and a few others are talking about some issue. Just talking and solving all the worlds problems. With pleasure you happen to remember that Jesus taught us and pointed us in a direction to follow on the issue at hand. You speak up for that direction! And when someone asks why you think this way, you give a mild response about it making sense, or it seems good, or that's how your parents raised you, or it's just the right thing to do. And again you realize that you may have followed Jesus but have not wanted anyone to know that you have. You do not even mention the golden rule is from scripture. And you realize that you are just like Peter. You are secretly following Jesus but denying it to others.
Wait a second and you will hear the cock crow. It might not be the last time you hear it in your life because we are strong like Peter and weak like Peter. We just keep going, confident we will get it right the next time. We remind ourselves that we talk about practicing our faith.
A companion, an apostle, a trusted friend betrayed Jesus. Jesus does not seem to hate him, blame him, exclude him, prevent him. Jesus eats his last meal with him.
You know you have been betrayed: lovers, family, church, work, ideals, the vague promises of things going to be better. Do you forgive others as Jesus forgives you? Do you forgive as Jesus forgave Judas? Do you consider the danger of asking God to forgive you as you forgive others?
Judas betrayed Jesus for reasons he thought were good. We will not know fully what motivated him. Maybe he just was so convinced that he knew what SHOULD be done and what SHOULD happen and what SHOULD be the timing that he forgot what COULD be with God. He did not seem to fully grab the newness of Jesus, his unique message and his exciting way to live with God and the fresh ways of expressing faithfulness.
Think about it. have you rejected some new bit of understanding because it was new? Have you fought something not knowing if it is a new creation of God's? Not knowing if it is from God or not, have you said NO?
You know you have rejected some things only to have it later (1 year? 10 years? 25 years?) shown to be good and life giving. Or seen that your children or others find it to be Holy. We all find lots of ways of betraying Jesus. We look for security in earthly places: saved money, strong doors, smart people, the Caesars of our day, some feel good platitudes, and our hopes of doing it all ourselves. Without God or Jesus.
We are told that Jesus was nailed to a Cross made of wood. Not a nice wood, smooth and hard with a pretty grain pattern. It would have been a cheap piece of wood. Some people will try to figure out if the nails went into the palm or the wrists. Others might speak about how the wood crosses. Some will even claim that this is what God wanted and that it is good for us. Maybe there will be forensic talk about whether he died from shock, blood loss, dehydration, or suffocation.
You and I do not really care about any of that or what is real about the story. We just think about how horrible the whole thing seems.
But the story is intriguing. The nails did not kill him. They used the nails to keep Jesus where they wanted him. Nailed, he is out of their way, out of their business, away from those who might hear him and give God a radical trust.
We do it today too to keep him where we want him. Nailed to a cross he saves us from sin and gets us into heaven, freeing us to not worry (or do anything) about it. Nailed to the Cross Jesus can not get into our lives, teaching directing, disturbing us. Nailed he is dead. If he was living we might have to pay more attention to him. We might expect to see him in the face of those around us, especially in the least, the lost and the lowest of humanity. Nailed to the cross, Jesus can do the work he is suppose to do of saving us, and we do not have to have to worry about anyone's expectation that he could or even should be seen in our own face. We at least are free, free to act as we want as long he is where we want him - nailed to the cross saving us from sin.
Of course it is futile to think that he will stay there for all of history. And now he walks among us, changing lives and hearts. Teaching young and old. Disturbing our order and control. Expecting us to be alive to him. Leading us to trusting God.
Life would have been easier if we could have kept him nailed away from us.
Dead. Death has come and He is dead. Like the disciples we have a lot of hopes and expectations and dreams about how life will be with Jesus. We might think that with Jesus life will be good, that we will be blessed with a better/nicer life. We hold on to the hope that believing in Jesus will mean that tragedy will passover us. We want to dream that life will be pastels and pretty flowers. The affront of the cross gives way to the reality that Jesus was killed. He is gone. With him the hopes and the dreams and the expectations we held when we think of him as alive and powerful, teaching and healing, a prophet who teaches with power. There is no power in death.
Can we love him and care for him even if he is dead? Will we stick with him and praise him after a broken body has broken our hopes, showed us the ugliness of our hearts and the cross, and caused us pain loss? This night is uncomfortable and makes us feel bad.
In those times when it feels like God has left us, that Jesus is dead, and that we are left to the pain of life – in those times will we be able to still love him, care for him, honor him? When the church hurts us, embarrasses us, pushes us too far too fast, yells at us and tells us we are wrong and bad – in those times will we be able to still love the body of Christ, care for it, and honor it?
Or, consider Good Friday as the potential for something more, as in this picture.
Maybe it is and always be more like a gathering of vultures, waiting for death. The gray clouds on one side and sunshine, although unseen, warms and dries the vultures wings.
And, if you want a thought to chew on,
Do you live your life as if the day is Good Friday
or do you live as if the day is Easter?
Come into the sunshine
We hope to see you on Easter. Sunrise Service at 6:15 at Vermont College green.
Sanctuary Service at 10 am, with flowers, choir, and some really wonderful people.