It’s Holy Weekend and I am enjoying myself.

Let me confess something first.  Today on this Holy Saturday I did yoga in the park, brought a latte at indie cafe, and came home to eat a vegetarian, Indian, meal.  None of this appropiate for a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) and is actually more fitting for a WUCNA (White, upper-class, new ager).  I’m still pretty relaxed though, and Yoga is pretty harmless.  Meat before idols and all that.

Last night though, was Good Friday.  I enjoy Good Friday liturgies because they challenge the “think positive” culture that permeates a lot of Christianity.  I feel sometimes that the tragedy of the crucifixion is skipped over so we can get to something nice and happy like the Resurrection.  On the first Good Friday, all the disciples, -sans John- ran scared.  While we can understand people running for their lives, can we really understand well-off, first world Christians, ignoring Jesus’ crucifixion, or treating like a optimistic pre-event for Easter?

When I think about the original Good Friday, and when I think about John watching Jesus die, Peter denying him, and Judas betraying him, it seems to me that feeling “good” at the end of good Friday is probably not appropiate.  It’s like having a tap dance at your grandmother’s funeral.

We love Jesus enough to go to church when it feels happy, hopeful, and optimistic.  Do we love Jesus enough to worship when worship causes us to mourn?

Our liturgy last night was written by members of our church.  There was no sermon and other than the musicians, there was no one “on stage.”  We had several readers who read as the rest of listened.  Here are few standouts:

Father, we are so obsessed with getting that we hardly recognize a gift—even when he stares us in the face. Father, we are so obsessed with going to heaven that we hardly notice that when Jesus calls us, he bids us, “Come and die!” Father, we are so obsessed with the logic of profit and loss that we think that following Jesus is a smart investment. Father, we are so obsessed with upward mobility that we think that Christians are better than other people. Send your Holy Spirit, Father, so that we may hear the word that you speak to us on this Good Friday, so that we may recognize Jesus when we see him—among the outcasts of this world.

Here’s another one:

Reader 5: Jesus proclaims and performs the forgiveness both of sins and of monetary debts, the free gift of mercy and of property, the abandonment of self-centeredness and of self-defense, the exaltation of the humiliated and the humiliation of the exalted, reconciliation with God and with our enemies, love for all those who hate us and wish us harm.

Finally towards the end:

Father, send your Spirit this night to remind us that we, too, are sent to the bad people of this world. Remind us that to find them we need not look down. We need only look to our right or to our left—or into a mirror. Father, send your Spirit this night to remind us that, wherever we stand or sit or lie down, we cannot be separated from the people next to us. Remind us that, despite what we have been trained to believe, we are our neighbors. Remind us, too, that you command us to love them in the way you love us.

Further highlights abound, but the communal prayers spoke more than a hundred sermons.  The message I got out of the whole liturgy was that we repent, recognize Jesus death, and realize that call to Evangelism will probably look like that.  No, this kind of message doesn’t make me feel good.  It doesn’t exactly make me happy.  It doesn’t even make hopeful.  There is no room for positive-think self-help sermons on a night like this, yet it is part of the Gospel.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to Easter.


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