Saturday, April 3, 2010
Good Friday is now yesterday, but still, it was only hours ago that I walked from the Good Friday worship service remembering Jimmy. He was the one who brought me to a point of offering a tradtional three hour worship experience on Good Friday which focused on the Seven Words of Jesus from the cross. At the time he was at the Glenwood Church and I was at Vidalia. He was young, barely out of seminary and I was in my fifth appointment. When he told me about offering this worship service, I was a bit surprised. "Who," I thought, "would go to a three hour worship service?" I asked him what he would do if no one came. His answer I have never forgotten. "If no one came, I would still read the lessons. It is important that they be read."
Somewhere in those Vidalia years, I started offering that three hour Good Friday worship experience. I discovered that people would come. While it is the kind of worship setting which provides for people to come and go, staying whatever amount of time they want, there are always some folks who come at the beginning and leave three hours later when the benediction is pronounced. I also discovered that something powerful begins to happen in my life as I am involved in such a lengthy service that takes me to the foot of the cross and keeps me there. And, I have also learned that I am not alone as those who share in those moments of worship bear the same testimony.
While too many churches think it is something only Roman Catholic Churches do, it is a thing of great value to the church. More and more the cross is being pushed out of the picture of what God has done for us through Jesus. We do Palm Sunday one week and jump to Easter the next. No one is invited or encouraged to stop at the cross and meditate on its place in our spiritual lives. That omission can lead to a watered down theology. I left Good Friday worship thankful that Jimmy spoke that word to me long years ago. Had he not, I would have missed such powerful blessings over these years.