This fireplace and cooking area (in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland) makes me think of the fire around which Peter and the crowd of people huddled as Jesus was “examined” by the High Priest in the wee hours of the night. Good Friday is a day where we are called to “walk with Jesus” as he moves through torture and harassment by the guards through a kangaroo court with Annas, Caiaphas, Herod, and even Pilate, finally to the cross and tomb.
Throughout my years of ministry, I have led or been a part of a variety of Good Friday observances. They have ranged from full-scale recreations of Jesus’ last day to a liturgy of hymns and scripture lessons. As Rowan Wyatt asks in the title of his article for Good Friday, “What’s so Good About Friday?”, I believe that we often are in such a hurry to get through Holy Week to Easter Sunday, that we forget to stop and ponder the significance of Holy Week.
I have to admit, as a pastor (and previously as an Air Force Chaplain) I find myself so caught up in all of the special worship services (from designing to leading them) that by the time Good Friday rolls around my mind is set on preparation for Easter Sunday. A perfect example of this is the fact that it is Monday of Holy Week and I am just now getting around to writing an article about Good Friday after first preparing the Bulletin for our Easter Sunday service at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies!
On Palm Sunday I encouraged myself and my congregation to be the voice of Christ for the voiceless or else Christ would call the very stones that make up the Rocky Mountain National Park to start speaking out. Can you imagine the noise that the Rocky Mountains could make? Wow! A part of that encouragement was to slow down and truly focus on what Holy Week and the last week of Jesus’ earthly life was truly all about. As we hiked in the Rockies on Sunday afternoon, I found myself having to slow my mind down. I guess that was a precursor to what we are called to do during Holy Week.
On Good Friday my challenge will be to truly walk with Jesus and the disciples and the women through that day. The challenge will be to do more than lip service to the day in our Ecumenical Good Friday Service in town. Perhaps I need to slow down and spend some time sitting quietly before the symbolic fire as Peter did and ask myself the simple question he was asked. “You are one of them aren’t you? Don’t you know him?” And if I know him, am I willing to speak boldly for the widows, orphans, and voiceless in his name? Or am I going to leave that job to the Rocks!