Written by Mel Ackerman
I used to attend Good Friday services every year with my dad. He always saw the importance of going in order to set things into perspective. We would spend the day in prayer and fasting and then we would find a church that held a good Friday service even though it wasn't the denomination that we were from. I remember it felt very much like going to a memorial service. Everyone walked out quiet, solemn and sad. There was a heaviness and an ache in my heart as I left the building. I remember the first time I had attended a Good Friday service with my dad, I drove home crying. I was so sad. I thought to myself, why in the world would anyone do this? My dad explained that we can't see the hope and joy in Sunday if we don't first experience the loss and sadness on Friday.
Easter Eve as we called it. The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday was a day spent in anticipation, preparation and hope. It was a great time to color Easter eggs, bake desserts to take to our neighbors, prepare for our Easter brunch or dinner depending on the plans for that year. We would also plant flowers and start planting our garden seeds indoors. We would talk about how amazing it was to know that one seed could produce multiple of that fruit or vegetable. How something had to die in order to have it grow again. Many years ago I was given a garden sign that said "To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow". I love that truth! You don't plant a garden thinking the end is near. You have to believe that there is a tomorrow if you are going to plant something, especially food. Just like that garden giving us hope and anticipation for tomorrow, Easter Eve always brought hope and anticipation for Resurrection Sunday.
My dad was right, when I walked in to the church that Sunday morning I immediately felt the contrast. I heard the worship team singing songs of praise and proclamation, I saw the bright and cheerful colors everyone wore, I smelled the Easter Lillys that decorated the foyer, I felt the joy, celebration and hope of new life, and I wanted to worship the one who had paid the price for my sins, defeated sin and had been raised from the dead. I couldn't wait to hear the words, "He is risen!" and to say back "He is risen indeed!"
I think as Christians, sometimes over the years, we can forget what it was like to be separated from God; sad, hopeless, wandering around with a God sized hole in our heart. Good Friday can be an opportunity to remember, reflect and be thankful for all He did and saved us from. This year we are unable to attend services, however, let's take some time by ourself to remember. We can read Matthew 27, Mark 15, and Luke 23 and let those words sink in and reflect on what we've read. Let's spend time thanking him for loving us enough to save us.
"God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled and died, it was God saying to the world, 'I love you'." - Billy Graham