By Pastor Mitch Miller
At Griggs, we're establishing a new tradition in our Good Friday service. This gathering is packed with music and scripture readings about the death of Jesus. We take the Lord's supper and then go through in detail all that the crucifixion entailed.
This will be our third year holding a service on the evening of Good Friday. Many churches that are similar to ours do not hold services on Good Friday (some do, to be sure) and we went for about 80 years seemingly without one. So why do we have one now? Why have a Good Friday worship service?
1. Traditions are a good thing.
The Old Testament is packed with festivals, celebrations, and ceremonies that we no longer participate in today. Well, we do participate in them in that they all pointed to Jesus, and we participate in life with him. But what I mean is, for many of us, our worship calendar could use some more traditions, some more time slots filled with celebration and adoration that we carve time out for on a yearly basis.
2. Feelings are a good thing.
Do we really feel the gravity of the cross? Do we really feel the sense of loss that the 11 disciples would have felt on that first Good Friday? Probably not as much as we ought, as we're on the other end of it and we know the end of the story. We should live in the joy of the resurrection, but it's healthy for us, once in a while, to take a moment to soak in the pain of that weekend, before the tomb was empty.
I remember walking out of a Good Friday service once, and one of the kids in my youth group was in the parking lot, holding on to his father, weeping. Now, I know for a fact that I had preached the cross to that kid dozens of times. But I had always concluded with the truth that Jesus had risen again. He had not had many chances to stand in the wake of what his sin cost the God-man, but now he was feeling it as perhaps Jesus' original followers did. That is good for the soul.
3. Completion is a good thing.
Without a Good Friday service in between Christmas and Easter, we're not getting the complete story. Jesus was born, and He rose again are the only two messages most Americans hear each year. Good Friday, however, helps complete the picture.
Why is his birth precious? Because he was going to be a sacrificial lamb. Why is his resurrection precious? Because we thought we had lost him - the one who healed, spoke truth, helped the poor, fed the hungry, and sat with sinners and, by the way, still does. Because he's alive.
4. Repetition is a good thing.
You may be thinking, "We talk about Jesus' death all the time, why a whole different service dedicated to it?" We do mention Jesus' death in almost every service at Griggs, but we don't go through the entire ordeal in every service. We don't go through each piece of the betrayal, denial, false accusation, physical torment, and trial at every service. We don't always go into detail about the practice of crucifixion. And, yes, many of us know how long the nails were, and what a flagrum was, but that doesn't mean we don't need to be reminded.
The scriptures themselves not only go into detail about the crucifixion story in all four gospels but each gospel gives this part of Jesus' story at least a few chapters. Maybe that means we need to hear about Jesus' stripes repeatedly.
5. Why not?
Growing up, I went to Christian school, which was actually a ministry of the church that I went to. We were given some holidays that public schools weren't, and one of them was Good Friday.
Though I got that day off from school, as far as I remember, my church didn't have a Good Friday service. Thus, I didn't put much thought into Good Friday until I was in my 20's, even having grown up in such a Christian environment because it wasn't celebrated. And, don't get me wrong, I'm not dogging on my church from back then, I'm just thinking, why not?
What could be bad about taking one night each year to remind ourselves what Jesus was going through 2,000 years ago at this time with us on his mind?
If you're a part of Griggs, we'd love to have you make time to worship with us tonight at 7 pm. If you're not a part of Griggs, and your home church does not have a Good Friday service, we welcome you to ours for that evening, then encourage you to return to your home church on Easter morning.