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Monday, April 9, 2012

Good Friday

We shared Good Friday with our congregation through the use of a dramatic reading that six different people participated in.  The Passion narrative speaks for itself so we simply allowed the scriptures to tell the story of Jesus' death.  The readers brought their own voice and accent to the scene.  Again, it was incredible to have people from these nations reading Christ's passion in dramatic fashion: India, Sweden, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Great Britain, and Malawi.
This is a somber service, with minimal decoration.  A dark cloth and black candles along with a single red rose dot the altar and the candles are extinguished one by one as we grow closer to Christ's death.  The music is reflective and quiet.  The sanctuary grows dim as we move towards the crucifixion.  The service ends in total darkness with only this slide on the walls.  We allow the silence to hang in the air, feeling the deep impact of death.  Jesus does indeed rise again from the dead, but it's also good to know that he died a horrible death on our behalf.  And so we sit with darkness and with death and in silence.  Some tears are shed.  We depart in silence.  It is the one day all year that no fellowship time is offered after the service.  It leaves you hungry to return to on Easter Sunday, eager for the good news that death has been defeated.
We had some close friends over for dinner after the service.  The one family that was with us are among the very first friends we made after we moved to Sweden.  The kids were little then and now they are grown women.  Expressions of how much the church has meant to all of us were shared around the table.  We recalled meeting one another for the first time and feel so grateful that Immanuel International brings people together from around the world to share our common faith and rejoice in the gift of friendship.  Even the snow on Good Friday could not destroy the warmth that we shared around the table! 
Much good food was shared including this pavlova for dessert.  When the dishes were cleared and the guests had left, a beautiful glow lingered in the dining room.  The joy of salvation and the warmth of friendship were celebrated on this very Good Friday.