What a great day this has turned out to be. Good Friday, the day when we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is often considered to be a dull and dour occasion; some Christians are known to wear black all day and look miserable (certainly that was the more Victorian understanding), others will engage in solemn and silent walks of witness parading through town and village centres to show the seriousness of the occasion.
I can remember in my childhood that shops weren`t allowed to open on Good Friday and meat wasn`t allowed to be eaten.
Since coming into the Ministry it has been a day of mixed experiences. I remember in Oldham we used to have a powerful walk of witness between four churches and then I used to take the wooden cross and dash off to another Church in time for its service.
In Eastwood we were involved in a nine denominational walk of witness through the town centre and then spent the afternoon in a quiet reflective reading of scripture up till 3.00 p.m. Meanwhile at Langley Mill it always involved a Maundy Thursday supper and a Good Friday evening service.
It has always been a busy day for me (as well as for other people) but it is such an important day that these services are especially important.
So what have I been doing today that has made today so good ? First of all I spent the first half an hour of the working day in prayer with others from Zion Methodist Church (South Normanton) praying for revival in the town and the unity of all the Churches. I then travelled to Birchwood Lane Methodist Church in Somercotes for a more traditional Good Friday service. On this occasion we looked at Rembrandts etching entitled “Three Crosses” in which he is supposed to have painted himself into the crowd at the foot of the cross. A quiet reflective occasion where approximately 20 people gathered; each received a card with a picture of Rembrandts etching on it and we reflected on “were our faces in the crowd at the foot of the cross ?” As the questions were asked Elaine, one of the Church members hammered nails into a block of wood. It was even more powerful than I imagined it would be.
After that I dashed back to South Normanton to join in with all the denominations of the town who had shared in a service at Bethel Methodist Church and were embarking on a walk of witness around the town. There was an excellent turn out from all the Churches; stopping to read portions of Scripture and sing hymns it was both powerful and unifying. Again it was a moment in time when you really felt that God was at work, just as he had been at Birchwood.
I can`t help but think that the tears which flowed at Birchwood and the spirit with which people walked in South Normanton was down to God`s Holy Spirit moving; as scripture tells us in Romans “our spirit cries out to God`s spirit, crying `Abba, Father`” Friends don`t doubt it, when we`re about Gods work with hearts that truly desire to serve and honour him, he responds in powerful ways.
I wonder how some of my readers might have acknowledged Good Friday this year. For some of you it may have been no more than another day but I hope and pray that, like me, it has truly been a day when the saving work of Jesus Christ has been remembered; a day when we have been able to give him thanks for that salvation and a day closer to the full restoration of Christs Kingdom in this world.