Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Good Friday. It's a day I try to live extremely consciously. Although for health reasons I cannot fast completely, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday I "fast" as a former pastor with similar blood sugar issues advised me: I eat oatmeal only until dinner. As oatmeal is not a favorite meal of mine, I take little enjoyment in eating this way, but it does keep my blood sugar level.

So this morning I made oatmeal for myself and for J, my oatmeal fan. I spent some time in prayer before the kids and I drove down the hill, listening to John Michael Talbot in the car rather than our usual Harry Potter tapes. We drove down to Lake Murray to walk the Stations of the Cross in the sanctuary, a devotion we set up during Holy Week. We use a Biblical Stations approved by Pope John Paul II in the mid-90's that traces the events of Jesus's last hours from Gethsemane to the tomb. So across the back wall of the sanctuary and down one side toward the front of the church where the Stations end at the cross (the one pictured above), a prayer area is set aside for meditation. Several of the Stations had fallen off the walls, so the kids and I used masking tape to put them back up, and I lit the candles along the back wall and on top of the piano in front of the cross. The kids went through the Stations much more quickly than I did, of course. I walked slowly through the sanctuary, lit only by the stained glass windows and eight candles, reading and meditating on the Scriptures and gazing at the artwork, imagining Christ in each event. At times I felt myself near tears as I pondered each Station:

After the Lake Murray Stations, we drove back up to Alpine to Queen of Angels Catholic Church to attend the annual Ecumenical Stations in which five to six local churches take part. Father Acker and his guitar students played and lead the singing of "Were You There?" after each Scripture lesson is read in turns by the participating pastors/priests. We started off with this prayer:

Almighty God, Your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross so that He might draw the whole world to Himself. Grant that we, who glory in this death for our salvation, may also glory in His call to take up our cross and follow Him, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The verses of the hymn "Were You There?" were sung to match the Scripture verses as we walked from one Station to the next in the hot noon sun with about 150 people all together. So after one of the pastors read Luke 22:39-44, we sang, "Were you there when they couldn't watch one hour?" It was nice to walk the Stations with so many other fellow believers, but I think I prefer solitary, meditative Stations.

At home the kids and I sat down at 3 PM, the time of day of Jesus' death, to pray through the Anglican Good Friday lessons. I spent more time in Bible reading for the Bible Book Club for the rest of the afternoon. Then after an early dinner the kids and I headed back down the hill to the Good Friday services at Lake Murray. I took a few photos before the service started, especially of the "rugged cross" laid across the steps to the stage at the front of the sanctuary:

We sang some lovely hymns, like "Hallelujah, What a Savior!" and "The Old Rugged Cross," and "Nothing But the Blood" before we read part of John 18 responsively. After the sermon given by Pastor Bob which focused on John 18:30 when Jesus said, "It is finished," Pastor Stephen laid out what we were to do with the cross: we were to write down our besetting sins, stamp them with "paid in full by the blood of Christ," and then nail them to the cross. Hearing the hammer blows over and over as everyone lined up to nail their sins to the cross was so hard to hear but moving. I also bent to kiss the cross after I nailed my sins as I missed the Anglican Veneration of the Cross -- I may gotten some splinters in my lip gloss as the cross really was RUGGED.

We got home around 9:30 tonight, so we had a rather long Good Friday. But with so much focus on the sorrow and grief of the day, Resurrection Sunday will be all the more joyful, right?

Tomorrow night we have the Holy Saturday Vigil -- I'm really looking forward to the first Evensong of Easter.

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