Remember the Loss: A Good Friday Service Opener

Remember the Loss: A Good Friday Service Opener

This is a little long and a bit rough, but I think it would be a great way to open a Good Friday worship service. Bring your lights down, play some soft music in the background and deliver this more as poem than sermon.

Have you ever been watching a game and been so invested in one team that you almost can’t watch the game? Have you ever sat there watching your team pull ahead and thought that maybe this time, this time things would be different, that this time victory would finally be theirs and by extension yours.

Have you ever sat there and watched as the victory that seemed so sure a moment ago began to slip away? Have you ever watched as your team went from leading to tied to trailing and all you can think is “this is not how this is supposed to go” and that sick feeling in your stomach that this is going to be bad starts to build and build until all you can think about is how much you don’t want to watch this, but yet you just can’t turn away?

Have you ever held out hope, even a fools hope that your team would turn it around that they would do the miraculous. Have you ever counted point differentials while you begged the clock to slow down because just maybe your team could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Have you ever sat there when your team lost and felt utterly hopeless? Have you ever looked at the zeros on the clock and the deficit on the scoreboard and felt like you have been punched in the gut because no matter what else happens you were wrong to hope, wrong to dream, wrong to look for victory. Have you ever felt the pain of loosing when you thought for sure that this time you were going to win?

 

If so then take that feeling and multiply it by 1000 and stand next to John at the foot of the cross. Stand there and watch as the one that you were sure would save the world is arrested. Stand there and watch as the one who you were sure would lead the people of Israel to freedom is nailed to a cross. Stand there with John and hope for something beyond possible, hope for the miracle that maybe just maybe He would listen to the mockers and save himself like he saved others. Stand there and listen to his ragged breath as you hold out hope that somehow he will survive this and lead His people to victory and freedom. Stand there and watch the blood collect in pools around the cross and count the time that He has left before the end. Take that feeling of loss, that feeling like nothing is ever going to be right again and multiply it by like a million as you stand there and watch Jesus, the one you called Messiah, the one who healed the sick, raised the dead, and entered the city to shouts of hosanna dies right before your eyes. Stand there and hold out hope that maybe he isn’t really dead until you see his side pierced and the blood and water pour from the wound. Stand there and try to figure out how you could have gotten all of this so very, very wrong.

 

When we look at this day through the lens of the resurrection we can call it good and we can rejoice for the savior has come and chosen to die for us. We can meet here on Good Friday and smile because we know what this cross means; we know that Sunday is coming. But we must not move to quickly past the cross. We must not look past the pain in order to see the victory. We must not ignore the violence in order to see the empty tomb.

Let us linger for a while on the pain, on the feelings of failure, on that deep pain that comes from losing, from choosing wrong, that pain that comes from being sure that God is going to come through for you and then discovering that He doesn’t.

 

Good Friday reminds us that we live in a world of pain. There is hope, because we know that Sunday is coming, but there is pain, and loss, and regret, and tears. That is where we live, that is what this world is.

We don’t want to move to quickly past this day because it is this day, this horrible, horrible day that allows us to say with confidence that this world is not our home. It is this day that allows us to say that even though it looks like we are defeated we know that God has won. It is this day that we can call good because on this day the God of the universe sent his son to die on a cross to pay a debt that we could never pay. On this day Jesus Christ took on himself the penalty for our sins and we can rejoice and call this day good.

So come, look, remember, and open up your heart as we worship together.

Good Friday Ideas

Good Friday Ideas

I’m not really sure why more people seem to come looking for creative ideas for Good Friday more than any other day. Maybe it is because it is outside of the usual Sunday service times so people are willing to try something different. I’m not sure the reason, but I do like to make things as easy as possible for people who end up here looking for Good Friday ideas. So I decided to do what I have done the past couple of years and pull a list of some of the Good Friday ideas that I have published here over the years. Hope it helps.

Remember the Loss: A Good Friday Opening Monologue

“Crucify Him” responsive reading

“The Torn Veil” hands on experience

“Unashamed Love” object lesson

“The Cost” performance poetry piece

The Veil Resown Sermon Idea

The Veil Resown Sermon

The Veil Resown Sermon

Tonight I preached a new sermon about how we as Christians are “re-sewing the curtain” that was torn into at the time of Jesus’ death. I also wrote a new story to go along with it. You can find the story (The Park) here. I have never actually placed the full text of a sermon up here. This is really just the notes that I used to preach from. I am sure there are some typos and such, but I imagine you can get the gist.

  • Turn with me to Mark 15:37-38
  • In the middle of this huge crucifixion narrative with all of these things happening that fulfill the old testament prophesies about the messiah and such we get this one little verse, just a dozen or so words, that if you didn’t know the context could get overlooked.
  • Read the verses
  • Most scholars believe that this curtain is the one the separated the temple from the Holy of Holies.
  • Inside the holy of holies is where God dwelt. Now on this side of the cross it is hard to get our heads around this concept.
  • I mean we call this place our sanctuary and tell our children that this is God’s house, but God doesn’t live here. I mean not in the sense of the fact that after we all leave God is sort of hanging out shutting of the lights and waiting for us to come back on Wednesday night.
  • But in the temple things were a little different. This holy of holies was a big, big deal. No one was allowed inside of it.
  • One day a year on the day of atonement a priest carrying the blood of bull for his own sins and a goat for the sins of the people was allowed to enter.
  • He was to carry in a brazier full of incense to cover his sin so that he wouldn’t die from being in the presence of the LORD.
  • This holy of holies place was a serious thing.
  • Now take all of that in, all of this idea of the Holy of Holies being a the place where God was said to dwell and was a place where no one was allowed to go and then read this verse again.
  • Read Verse again
  • Jesus died, and the curtain was torn from top to bottom.
  • How amazing is that. In essence we see God in a very real and dramatic way saying, “HERE I AM! I HAVE MADE A WAY FOR YOU TO SEE ME! I HAVE BRIDGED THE GAP! I HAVE PAID THE PRICE! I HAVE ATONED FOR YOUR SIN! COME AND SEE ME!”
  • In this one act God was saying to his Jewish audience (who would have immediately gotten the significance) You may now come in.
  • What has been running through my mind this week is this idea of what did the Jews do about the curtain?
  • I did some internet research trying to find out, but I couldn’t really find anything. But the temple wasn’t destroyed by the Romans for another few decades.
  • So I imagine they didn’t just leave the curtain torn. I imagine they sewed it back up, or replaced it with a new one.
  • But even if they didn’t. Even if the Jews didn’t replace the curtain of the temple with a new one. Too many people in the church today are trying their best to sew up the veil.
  • Too many people have been given access to God and now they are trying to cover him back up.
  • But I am getting ahead of myself. I want to tell you guys a story that is about this very idea.
  • STORY GOES HERE
  • This story is written to manipulate your emotions a bit. You are supposed to root for Sam while being upset with Jim and the crows.
  • But if we take a step back I think we will see that in many ways Christians today are acting the exact same way. We have been given access to God and now we are trying to sew up the veil.
  • We sew up the veil when we care more about this church than about God
  • We cannot get so focused on our church that we forget the God that we claim to follow. We can’t get so caught up in our own plans and our own ideas that we forget to seek God’s face and guidance.
  • We sew up the veil when we stop reaching out and just expect people to come in.
  • Waaaaay too much of the evangelism of the modern church is focused on having large events and inviting people to come.
  • If we want to reach out and let people know that they can have access to God we must take the love of God outside of these walls.
  • If you aren’t a church type person this building can be scary. So we must go beyond these walls.
  • We sew up the veil when we don’t commune with God ourselves
  • You have access to God. Are you communing with him or do you take that wonderful sacrifice of Jesus for granted
  • We sew up the veil when our actions don’t reflect the glory of God.
  • Too many times when people look at Christians they don’t see the Love of God. God opened the way for everyone to come to know him, but when they look at our lives too many times they see people who are don’t live any different from the rest of the world.
  • The see us being judgmental and mean instead of being loving and full of grace.
  • The curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom. Are you throwing it open and telling everyone you meet about how much God loves them and wants to know them or are you doing everything that you can to sew it back up again?
  • Pray

 

Good Friday Ideas

I closed the Areopogus (a little used forum) a few months back, but I wanted to revive a thread from there. This post from Jen was about her Good Friday Ideas. I hope it helps you.

 

In our community, the youth from all of the churches lead a community Good Friday service. This has been going on for several years, but I really liked this one. And I want to say thanks, Shane, because I borrowed from you (I gave you credit, in case you are worried.) Our service focused on the healing power of the cross. We called it a Service of Hope and Healing.

We had three worship stations as people entered the building on the way into the auditorium. The first was a station for “Letting Go.” People were invited to write down the pains, burdens, and sins that they carry and then pray about turning those things over to God. When they were ready to let go and trust God to take it, they lit the paper, which was actually flash paper so that those things literally went up in flames and disappeared.

The next station was a handwashing station. We had scripture from John about when Jesus washed the disciples feet for them to read as they waited their turn. We also talked with people about how in modern times it’s our hands rather than our feet that carry the dirt of the world. As cool as it would be to do footwashing, we felt that it would be too cumbersome for people to take off their shoes and put them back on. This was a nice alternative.

The last station invited participants to pray about both physical and emotion pain. There were tables set up with visual elements and those tables were covered with butcher paper so that people could write down their prayers if they wanted, or words of encouragement for others. We also provided more scriputre about healing here.

Then as people went into the auditorium, they were reminded that we need to quiet the chatter in our minds to really hear God, so there was soft music playing and they were invited to pray or read provided scripture.

The more “formal” part of the worship started with a few songs led by a band. Then three of our youth read your poem “Insecurities.” When they switched reader, they overlaped for a few lines so that one reader joined in and the other faded away. At the end, “God am I good enough,” they echoed each other. It was very powerful.

We then had readers read the scripture passages about healing and also the gospel for Good Friday, followed by another song.

The next part was a DVD presentation. Five of the youth were filmed doing the monologues from your dramatic reading “Does He” and instead of them singing at the end we had some artsy shots of them with Chris McDonald’s version of Amazing Grace playing over the top.

One of the kids gave a message and we finished up with some more music. We had a lot of good feedback and it felt like a very powerful night.