Good Friday 2023
Updated: Apr 9
© British Library Board. All Rights Reserved / Bridgeman Images
When I was preparing today's Good Friday time with the ladies, I wanted to keep it simple and read the events that led to Jesus' death. I decided to do a "walk" through scripture and art in a "Stations of the Cross" kind of way. It was so incredible to do the research and find meaningful renditions throughout the timeline. And even though I prayed throughout the preparation, it didn't really sink in until the very moment, just how differently Good Friday hits sitting amongst criminals and condemned.
The awesome thing was that I had planned on starting out with Communion with them because the Last Supper was our jumping-off point. What I did not plan for was that we were moved into the cafeteria and actually sat down together to partake together. Imagine the long cafeteria-style tables, and as the ladies filed in, I handed them an individual communion cup and their handouts and asked them to sit close together. As God would have it, there was one space left for me at the table right in the middle, and that's where I sat. I began with prayer and this image:
© Francis Newton Souza, THE LAST SUPPER, 1990
I read from Mark:
In the course of their meal, having taken and blessed the bread, he broke it and gave it to them. Then he said, Take, this is my body. Taking the chalice, he gave it to them, thanking God, and they all drank from it. He said, This is my blood, God’s new covenant, Poured out for many people. “I’ll not be drinking wine again until the new day when I drink it in the kingdom of God.” They sang a hymn and then went directly to Mount Olives.
We then went around and began reading the scriptures from the above handout. Each person read a paragraph and I told a brief overview of each image I chose. After the reading was done, a few people shared some thoughts that had come up while we read. I love when they share. It makes me overjoyed to see God moving in their lives.
I then shared what came up for me. I told them that as I was preparing for this service, I had them in mind. And what really hit me while I was there was the compassion Jesus had for so many people on his long and horrible walk to Golgotha. Jesus was beaten and completely spent physically, emotionally, and spiritually... and yet... multiple times Jesus consoled others... what an amazing supernatural display of compassion. And even right before he takes his last breath, he welcomes another criminal into the Kingdom of Heaven. I then said something along the lines of:
Look around you. You're all here, condemned. You may not have been physically beaten before you got here, but I'm pretty sure it was one of the worst days of your life that brought you here. You were most likely mentally and spiritually exhausted. And now, you're surrounded by other criminals. We can look to our left and to our right and condemn each and every person here... or, we can have compassion for ourselves and others, as Jesus did... knowing that everyone has gone through some traumatic events in order to be here. When we pray the Lord's prayer, we ask for "thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven," and the way we do this is by living our lives as Christ did. We bring God's Kingdom here, now. So, we can continue to live in the suffering of Good Friday, or we can live in the Hope that Easter is just around the corner. And sooner or later, the more we do this, we will find ourselves living in Easter and giving our Hope to the people stuck in Good Friday. But no matter what... it's important to remember this day, God's sacrifice, God's unconditional love for us... and remember that we are loved exactly as we are no matter what we've done, no matter who we've been. And God wants to be in relationship with us and guide us to the people They created us to be. Carrying the message of Hope to all.
Every year, the season of Lent is an emotional time for me, but this year, God brought me to a whole new level of understanding. It's not a coincidence that "compassion" is my word of the year. I pray that God continues to meet you where you are and that your eyes are open to the Presence in your life. I pray that you hold on to the Hope that Easter brings.
Here's a lovely Good Friday song:
I leave you with a quote from the late bishop and theologian Desmond Tutu:
Easter says to us that despite everything to the contrary, His will for us will prevail, love will prevail over hate, justice over injustice and oppression, peace over exploitation and bitterness.