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.
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.
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?
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.