Category Archives: Good Friday

Into the Darkness

Today the Church has been observing Good Friday.  It was a dark, wet, and dreary day in Cedar Falls, a day that befits the solemnity of our observance.  

At noon Cedar Falls had its first of what we hope will be an annual Procesion of the Cross using the stations of the cross as a model. The Procession was very well attended despite the weather.  I am sure over 100 of us braved the weather to walk with the cross, read scripture, and pray.  I am glad that more than ten churches gathered together to be reminded of the sacrifice of Christ and our oneness as part of his body!

This evening our Associate Pastor for Youth and College, Steve Braudt and our youth group led a Tenebrae Service.  It was a powerful service of dramatic scripture readings, extinguishing the lights, and stripping the sanctuary of its faith symbols.  We all left in silence and awe and the acts of Christ on the cross and the death which he suffered.

This time from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday is called by the Church the Holy Triduum.  It is a space and time during Holy Week that is a unit of worship experiences and contemplation.  From the Upper Room, to the Cross, and into the darkness we wait.  We await the coming of our Savior.  We await answers to the evils of hell, sin, and death.  We await empty needing to be filled.  We await knowing that Christ has died for us and hoping against hope that the darkness in our lives will not continue without relief.

Tonight and tomorrow the Church of Jesus Christ mourns so that on Sunday, as the sun rises in the east, we can shout and sing.  We can run to the tomb with Peter and John.  We can say with Mary “I’ve seen Jesus” and we can walk the Road to Emmaus with a pair of Jesus’ followers.

Every year we retell and relive the old old story of Jesus and his love!  Every year we come again to face the darkness knowing that Jesus faced it for us and that he was there before us.  Unlike the Disciples we walk into the darkness knowing that Christ’s light is coming!  That Jesus will rise again!  That the tomb will be found empty!  That the angels will sing!  That the graves will be opened!  And finally that our hearts will be healed, redeemed, changed, transformed by the overcoming grace of Jesus Christ.

We walk into the darkness awaiting the coming of the one who has enough love for the whole world.

As the thief on the cross said to Jesus those many years ago.  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!”  Jesus remember me!

Holy Week Journey with Jesus

Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday.  On Sunday we begin a journey with Jesus through his last days before his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.

Palm Sunday has always been a time for the triumphal entry of Christ.  We have the children carry palm branches down the aisle and we sing loud hosannas.  But in recent years the Church has also reemphasized the passion, that is death of Christ on the cross.  It is too easy to jump from the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday to the triumph of the resurrection and never talk about the scandal of the cross.  It is too easy to forget to talk about the suffering servant when we are singing songs of joy and triumph.  So this Sunday we will talk about Christ’s death and what that means for our faith.

On Maundy Thursday many churches around the world will celebrate the institution of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.  First UMC in Cedar Falls will have a reenactment of the last supper with the disciples and we will also share in the sacrament together.  In the days between Palm/Passion Sunday and Maundy Thursday Jesus has been meeting the challenge of the religious and political leaders of his day.  He has continued to talk about his radical gospel of love and the grace he offers.  When he comes to Thursday it is time to again try to get the twelve to understand that he intends to give his life for them.

On Good Friday we will celebrate Christ’s sacrifice.  Ten churches here in Cedar Falls, including First UMC, St. Timothy’s UMC, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and seven other congregations will participate in a procession of the cross from Overman Park through downtown Cedar Falls to the foot of the steps at St. Patrick’s Church.  We will read portions of the stations of the cross and remember Christ’s love and sacrifice for us and for the whole world.

There are many theories about the atonement of Christ, that saving act which happens for us on the cross.  Different Christians describe Christ’s work on the cross with different metaphors from scripture.  But what we all agree on is that Jesus Christ died to give us knew life and to offer us the saving gospel.  It is hard to imagine such a sacrifice, it is hard to comprehend what Christ gave up for us, it is hard to imagine such a cruel death.  But what we can know and do know is that the scriptures tell us that we can love God because he first loved us.  When are given God’s grace so that we can respond to him.  We are given God’s grace when we respond to him.  And we experience God’s grace each and every day as he sanctifies us and leads us to grow in grace each day.

If we really look at the cross and really look seriously at the one who would call us to be servants to all for the sake of the gospel then when we reach Easter Sunday and the tomb is found empty we can with even greater joy should and sing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today!” with joy, with amazement, with wonder that the one who is our savior became the greatest by being the servant all.

Lord Christ let us travel with you this week in your way and on your path that we might see the glory of your resurrection this week with new eyes, with new hearts, and with greater joy!