Three reasons to attend a Good Friday service

Growing up, my church never had a Good Friday service. We always celebrated Easter in a big way with fancy productions and cantatas. Now that I’m responsible for the creative arts portion of worship at my church, I can understand why having a Good Friday service would have been difficult considering the amount of work that goes into planning TWO major services in one weekend. But, when hearing of our church’s Good Friday service when we joined our current church about 9 years ago, we didn’t necessarily jump at the opportunity to go to church on a precious Friday night. However, we did, and from that first Good Friday service, I have been excited to attend (or in my current case, plan and execute) a GF service ever since.

So why should you take a friday night to go to church? Here are a 3 reasons:

Attending a Good Friday service makes the Easter celebration even more fulfilling.

When you get together for a celebration, how much greater is that celebration when it’s because someone has overcome something seemingly insurmountable? You attend a gender reveal party, and the tears flow as you celebrate this couple that struggled with infertility for years and years and thought there was no hope of having a baby. You celebrate in a big way when someone has overcome an illness that threatened to take his/her life. These celebrations are even more heightened when we know what we or others have overcome to get there.

A Good Friday service goes hand in hand with an Easter service. When we take the time to really focus and meditate and even mourn the Cross, His resurrection becomes even more precious to us! When we deeply feel the weight of our sin that nailed Him to that Cross, the hope and freedom we experience on Resurrection Sunday is that much more sweet to our souls. Which segues nicely into my second reason you should attend a Good Friday service.

Attending a Good Friday service gives us the opportunity to reflect on our sin. 

This may seem depressing. And I guess it sort of is. But typically, a Good Friday service will give you the opportunity to reflect, confess, and forsake your sin. This is something that we should be doing regularly as followers of Christ, but being given the opportunity to do this with other believers is actually a gift. James K. A. Smith says in his book, You Are What You Love:

“The point of poetic confession is not to make it pretty: we are owning up to our sin and faults and failures, after all. But it is the poetry of this confession that makes it stick and enables it to seep down into the wells of our imagination–which means it is also latent there, ready to rise to our lips throughout the week, giving us confidence in the promise that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive (I John 1:9). Thus the prayer is not just a “rite” for a Sunday morning; it is a gift that goes with us throughout our week as we seek to follow Christ.”

We can do this together by singing, praying, or reading a Psalm or liturgy. And going back to reason #1, when we take note of the heaviness of our sins and what they cost Jesus, how much sweeter is it knowing that He took those sins on HIMSELF out of love for US? And that now we are considered righteous in His eyes because of Jesus’ death and resurrection! What an amazing thought.

Attending a Good Friday service allows us to express our God-given creativity in our worship

Most Good Friday services are going to be artistic. Usually, there will be music, readings, film, art, maybe theater. These services typically use these artistic expressions to help us see things from a different point of view. This is a very good thing.

Jonathan Edwards writes, “For as God is infinitely the greatest Being, so he is allowed to be infinitely the most beautiful and excellent: and all the beauty to be found throughout the whole creation is but the reflection of the diffused beams of that Being who hath an infinite fullness of brightness and glory; God. . . is the foundation and fountain of all being and all beauty.”

And there is nothing more beautiful then the Cross.

“Before a sunset or a mountain range or a painting or a song can be relished as beautiful, our souls have to awaken to true beauty. The cross is real beauty. Everything else is reflection.” – Steve DeWitt (Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything)

Using the arts to reflect even just a glimpse of God’s beauty allows us to see Him in a unique way and creates a wonder in us that leads to worship. When we sing together, filled with the reverence and awe of the moment, it is just the smallest taste of the wonder we will experience as we fall on our faces someday at just a peek of His Glory.

“All the sunrises and sunsets, symphonies and rock concerts, feasts and friendships are but whispers. They are prologue to the grander story and an even better place. Only there, it will never end. J. I. Packer said it so well: “Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this to ever end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’ And it will. There can be no better news than this.”” – Steve DeWitt

Attend a Good Friday service this week and relish in the greatness of what this weekend represents for us. It is just a glimpse of our eternal Home.

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P.S. I HIGHLY recommend both books mentioned in this article.

“You are What You Love: the Spiritual Power of Habit” – James K. A. Smith

“Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything” – Steve DeWitt

 

 

Barefoot or Heels?

My 2.5 year old daughter sits on the arm of the couch, intently focused on the tv show in front of her. She has an older brother, so she has conceded over the years to watching shows like “Blaze: The Monster Machine,” “Paw Patrol,” and other deemed “boy” shows. So, this morning, I turned on a new show for her. She loves Disney Princesses even though she doesn’t really know anything about them, so I tried out the TV show, “Tangled” (starring the princess, Rapunzel). I loved this movie, and so far I don’t have too much to say on the television show as this is most certainly not a show review. Something just struck me as I watched a portion of this episode and I knew I needed to write about it, cuz when I can’t get a thought out of my head no matter what I do, I know it needs to be written down.

Rapunzel is new to this princess gig. She is all dolled up in a gown and heels and struggling to walk down the aisle of her own coronation. After all, how do women walk in heels?! You can tell she has a spirit that wants to run free and a confidence to run with that spirit. She’d rather be barefoot and jumping mud puddles in the fields or really ANYWHERE except walking down that aisle.

Although I am very thankful for the change in the way girls and princesses are portrayed in these newer cartoons (growing up, I sincerely thought I needed a prince to be happy and I’d prefer there not to be Barbies in my house), I also hope I never give my daughter the impression that being classy and regal is not cool either. Or to be afraid to be the woman who walks in heels with all the class and chooses to wear lipstick every day. (I write more extensively on females empowering females in my post, Insecurity Cripples but Love Builds)

While I can personally relate to being uncomfortable all frilled up, I can also get caught up in that free-sprit, “don’t confine me,” “let me be me,””I’m just fine, thank you” attitude and that isn’t healthy either. After all, it’s super cool to be a take-no-crap, independent, confident woman these days, right?

Raising a boy AND a girl in this gender-sensitive, gender-confusing, gender-emphasizing  world has this momma going crazy at times. It can be insanely fun and intensely overwhelming at the same time. As I continue to learn more about my evolution as a woman even in my 30’s, I’ll just beg for grace to teach Lilia and Logan that it’s ok for a woman to be strong, but it’s also ok to be a little dependent. That it’s ok to be free-spirited, but it’s also ok to be put together. It’s ok to be confident, but it’s also ok to feel weak. It’s fine to be casual and rugged, but it’s more than ok to be feminine.

At the end of the day, whether its jeans/tshirt, heels/dresses, free-sprit, dependent, independent, classy, rugged, whatever we are, we are all unique and loved by our Father.

I guess I’m just trying to say, I just hope in our attempts to empower women we aren’t also pressuring them to be something that they aren’t.

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Living in the Hard

I have fallen into the immediate gratification movement. I hate waiting. I see something I like on Amazon, I press a button, and boom – it’s at my door in 2 days. I want to watch a movie? I press a button, and boom – it’s on my TV. This is the best one. . . I want to read a book? I press a button, and boom – it’s on my kindle. I don’t have to wait for much of anything anymore. Groceries, shopping (HELLO, STITCH FIX – PLEASE SIGN-UP AND SAY I REFERRED YOU), music. . . It’s all waiting for us at the touch of a button! Continue reading

Insecurity Cripples but Love Builds

She sat on the couch with her husband at a party. Her eyes scanned the room at all of the beautiful faces laughing. The shapes of the gorgeous girls and their perfectly planned outfits captured her attention. She looked over at her husband’s eyes to see if he was noticing what she was noticing. Suddenly, she felt small and ugly; her usual confidence was drowning in insecurity.

This scenario could have described me to a T several years ago. I spent many years crippled with insecurity, always wondering what my husband was thinking about, looking at, participating in… Always noticing myself feeling jealousy or worthlessness compared to the women I considered more put together, more attractive, and more personable. Continue reading

A Beautiful Mosaic – The Final Chapter

Life was getting better for Liz Burg. Her entire outlook on life changed now that she had Christ to pursue. He became her passion and would remain her guiding influence for the rest of her life. She dedicated her life to others. I’m telling you, even in hospice, she was telling her pastor how she still had 2 people she was making plans to meet with to specifically share with them the Gospel. She would tell him, “God still has me here today, so He must want to use me for a specific reason.” She knew her life was not about being comfortable or happy. She knew, even in her very last days, her life was to be a shining light for Christ, even if that meant suffering. If you attended her funeral, you would hear over and over again how true this was. Continue reading

A Beautiful Mosaic – Part 3

A fresh, 20 year old Liz Burg stepped out of an airplane and into the city of Chicago, with a two-month baby boy in one arm and a suitcase on the other. Cesar Hervas and many family members waited in the airport and crowded around her for a huge celebration. Liz had made it to America. She talks of this day, October 25th, 1958, as one of the greatest days of her life. Coming to America (and eventually becoming an American citizen in 1966) were 2 of my Grandma’s proudest moments; she wanted to shout from the rooftops how blessed she was to be here. She was always encouraging us to never take for granted our freedom. Continue reading

A Beautiful Mosaic – Part 2

At ten years old, Grandma (Liz Burg) was back living in Heidelberg with her mother, Anna, and her step-father. (You can read about how she got to this point, here.) Grandma is silent about most of what took place for about 3 years in there. But, from the pain on her face, we know that it was a time she doesn’t like speaking about. She did tell us of an incident in which her step-father picked her up, held her out a 3-story window by the neck and threatened to drop her because she was caught bringing coals to their neighbor. She says it scared her “half to death” and she rarely disobeyed again. Continue reading