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.
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