Good Friday Online Worship
April 10, 2020
Good Friday homily by Priest Sherry Lindgren:
When I first reviewed the Community of Christ Worship Resources for Good Friday I immediately thought of a song written by Rich Mullins and performed by Ashley Cleveland called “Jesus”. The tone and the mood are very somber. Ashley Cleveland sings it as though she is going through a very difficult struggle. If you listen closely you will actually feel that struggle and it will remind you of struggles you’ve gone through in your past. It is questioning and yet hopeful. She calls on Jesus saying, in essence, people say you’ve done this or done that. Could it be possible that you could do those things for me too? Is is possible that I could be part of the story of the risen Jesus? Please listen closely with that mindset.
In January when I volunteered to preside over the Good Friday Service, I had intended to follow one of the World Church’s suggested formats for the service. It suggested that I ask four people in the congregation to give a 5-minute testimony about a tough time that they went through in the past, and how they felt when they went through it. They were to talk about how they might have felt despair, or alone or afraid.
I had specific people in mind that I wanted to ask to share because of things that I knew they were going through or had gone through in the past, and I had a recent relationship trauma myself that I was thinking of sharing.
January seems like so long ago now. Because of the global pandemic, I can’t help but think that all of us are feeling some combination of fear, isolation, paranoia, confusion, hopelessness and despair. Your particular mix probably depends on your age, general health, financial status, relational support system, and faith.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what are called the last 7 words or sayings of Jesus on the cross. Two in particular stand out to me as we we relate the story of Jesus’ death to our own story and how we make decisions about our mental, emotional and spiritual well being going forward.
The first is from Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” I’ve always found these words comforting rather than disturbing because even though Jesus knew on some level what was happening and why, he also had the very human feeling that his pleas were hitting a wall and going nowhere. This tells me that He can truly relate to anything that I might be going through.
The second is from Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I am a true believer in forgiveness for the sake of the forgiver more than the forgiven. I’m also acutely aware of how difficult it is to forgive because I have an extremely difficult time doing it. A lot of things are taking place now that we may have to forgive our neighbor for, and that we may have to forgive ourselves for. That doesn’t mean there is no accountability or lessons learned or adjustments or improvements made. But forgiveness enables us to live in the present and the future and frees us from hurt, pain, resentment, bitterness, hopelessness and despair from events of the past. We owe ourselves and each other that, or, even when the worst is over, we won’t be able to get past it and put one foot in front of the other.
The Worship Helps for today also suggested that I ask 3 people in the congregation to say prayers on the following topics:
- Help us to repent of our trespasses and empty ourselves of unloving thoughts and deeds.
- Cleanse and heal us, that we may be as one—that Jesus’ love may fill us with peace.
- In times of despair may we find hope in the cross and Jesus’ unending love.
These topics are perfect for all of us to ponder and pray about. Please consider them as you reflect on the road from the cross to the dawning of Easter Sunday.
I want to close with another song that Rick wrote called “I Wasn’t There.” Here’s what he told me about how the song came about:
“I Wasn’t There” answers the question from the old spiritual “Were You There?” and starts there. The song was written in the 1990s as part of a set of songs and readings about the last days of Jesus on Earth. The original disciples were “doubtful believers” who had personal experiences with Jesus, but yet still harbored doubts and uncertainties about who Jesus was and what the future held. Our son Kevin is also heard on this song.