“This kingdom of God life is not a matter of waking up each morning with a list of chores or an agenda to be tended to, left on our bedside table by the Holy Spirit for us while we slept. We wake up already immersed in a large story of creation and covenant, of Israel and Jesus, the story of Jesus and the stories that Jesus told. We let ourselves be formed by these formative stories, and especially as we listen to the stories that Jesus tells, get a feel for the way he does it, the way he talks, the way he treats people, the Jesus way.”— Eugene H. Peterson
You and I make the difference in the world as the hands and feet of Christ. We, together, change the landscape from fear to freedom, hopelessness to joyful anticipation; we, together, allow the spirit to overtake us with fresh and new possibilities; we, together, are modern day prophets and prophetic voices proclaiming the good news that He Is Risen, He Is Risen, Christ Is Risen Indeed!
Holy week began with Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday services that recall the story of Jesus arrival into Jerusalem, on a donkey, and the retelling of the story of the Last supper. There are several Good Friday traditions including:
• In the Caribbean nation of Bermuda, a local tradition regarding Good Friday is to fly kites, normally with a cross as part of the design. According to legend, a Sunday School teacher used a kite to illustrate to his students how Jesus ascended into Heaven.
• An extremely popular way to observe Good Friday is the Passion Play, a performance usually outdoors that reenacts the final hours of Jesus’ life, from his arrest to his crucifixion.
• In the Roman Catholic tradition, Good Friday is considered a day in which Catholics are to fast and to abstain from meat, with the rules on fasting varying within the global Church.
• If you are not fasting- Hot cross buns are a type of roll often baked with raisins and noted for having a cross shape on the top either imprinted with a knife or even consisting of icing.
• On Good Friday, many attend a worship service known as the Tenebrae, or “Darkness.” The service revisits the events of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.
• In some circles, especially traditional Catholic communities, people are known to wear black clothing, especially mourning clothes, on Good Friday. After all, it is the most somber day of the year.
So, what’s good about Good Friday?
I’ve heard my clergy colleagues say that you cannot get to the celebration of Easter Sunday without experiencing the Passion of Christ on Good Friday. While I understand the sequence of events I am also aware that the story does not end on Good Friday. Thanks be to God!
I am reminded that Life comes out of Death!! And when Life is the focus and the center of the message, one does not have to recount, retell, or relive, the Passion of Christ as a sad and somber day.
Death, poverty, and loss are part of the lived experiences of so many in communities of color. I am not at all surprised that Good Friday services are not sad but full of praise and celebration in many black churches. Why? Because we focus on Life, not the death of Jesus, but on the fulfillment of scripture that Jesus came and died to give life so that we might live it abundantly! This is praiseworthy!!!! And this puts the “good” back into “Good Friday.” Hallelujah!
What’s Good about Good Friday to many Black Christians?
The death of Jesus is interpreted as a sacrifice not one of martyrdom. Did Jesus give his life or was it taken from him? I was raised with the interpretation that Jesus gave his life! And even today, it is where I stand theologically on the question. Such sacrifice is not just mourned but celebrated as a gift to humanity.
The cost of discipleship, following “The Way” does not come without sacrifice. Count the cost before you decide to follow Jesus and the teachings of Jesus. It might cost you your reputation; it might cause you to relocate from a place of comfort and stability to one of being in the midst of all that makes you uncomfortable; it could cost the loss of friends and family because you speak for those who are voiceless and cannot speak for themselves, because you stand on the front lines with the marginalized and despised; because you speak truth to power, because you practice radical and extravagant welcome to all!
Holy week is about refection, remembering, worship and praise! You get to decide what it means to you and how you will live it out. As you Count up the cost of Discipleship remember Christ is Counting on YOU!
See you Friday and Sunday……
Rev. Janice Steele (aka, Pastor Janice)
Good Friday, Joint worship service
First Congregational Riverside,
Mount Hollywood UCC
Westwood Hills UCC
April 2, 2021 @ 7:00 p.m.
Here’s our Zoom link for the Good Friday service:
Topic: Good Friday Service
Time: Apr 2, 2021 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 833 1582 8596
Dial by your location
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 833 1582 8596
Mark 16:1-8 [Living Bible]
The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased embalming spices.
Early the following morning, just at sunrise, they carried them out to the tomb. On the way they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge stone from the entrance.
But when they arrived they looked up and saw that the stone—a very heavy one—was already moved away and the entrance was open! So they entered the tomb—and there on the right sat a young man clothed in white. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Don’t be so surprised. Aren’t you looking for Jesus, the Nazarene who was crucified? He isn’t here! He has come back to life! Look, that’s where his body was lying. Now go and give this message to his disciples including Peter:
“‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!’”
The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, too frightened to talk.