Saturday, April 23, 2011


It's Saturday, the day of waiting. Are you observing it?

I went to my church for my prayer vigil that I signed up for and I entered expecting to find the sanctuary how we had left it Friday night: black cloth draped over the cross where a crown of thorns laid around the vertical plank of wood. Black cloth draped over the altar and podium, all reminders to us of Jesus' earthly death. I expected to sit in the front pew and look upon this blackness and meditate on what it all meant - for me, for the world.

To my surprise, however, I entered the sanctuary and color exploded into my vision. There were lilies and all sorts of flowers all over the place! There were new cloths laid out: white, brightly and maternally-hand-stitched cloths.

Part of me felt disappointed that my first view of this celebration wasn't on the actual Easter morning, but how wonderful to walk into that quiet sanctuary, to be solitary and prayerful, and be greeted by such beauty. I knelt down at the front and gazed at the flowers. I looked at the candles and realized they weren't lit. That means something, I noted to myself. Perhaps the Light of Christ will be lit, to me, only on Easter morning. Right now, the flowers were displayed, but the candles were not lit.

Still the time of waiting.

And now, a word about our Good Friday service. It was so remarkable and full of awe and mystery.

The altar was stripped, Pastor and his wife dressed in black. We first sang, "Ah, Holy Jesus," which was a familiar hymn to me which I sang with much passion.

In that hymn, the line, "I crucified thee," hit me hard in the chest.

After the Old Testament reading, we sang "Beneath the Cross of Jesus:"

Then came the Nails of Passion. This was a new part of the Good Friday service to me. By the way, this service was a Good Friday Tenebrae (Darkness) Service.

First - Nail of Betrayal. Verses from the Book of Matthew were read telling of Judas' betrayal and then a prayer said. Then two candles were extinguished and a nail driven into a piece of wood. The sound of the hammer against the nail was a harsh reminder of the truth and reality of two thousand and eleven years ago.

Second - The Nail of Denial. Again, Matthew verses were read, telling of Peter's denial. Again, two candles snuffed out and three hits the nail.

7 year old huddled close, knowing what was to happen (we had talked to the 12 and 7 year old earlier - the 4 year old was being babysat). I held her close as the nails drove into my mind.

Then we sang "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded:"

Third - The Nail of Jealousy
Matthew read, candles extinguished, nail driven.

Fourth - The Nail of Indifference
Told of Pontius Pilate's indifference toward Jesus. Candles out, nail driven.

Five - The Nail of Mockery
The crowds yelled and shouted, mocking Jesus. Candles out, nail driven. Lights are going out now, the room gets darker.

Six - The Nail of Ridicule
Scornful words said. Darkness. Final nail driven.

We sang the beautiful song, "Were You There," which has become a definite favorite of mine.

And 7 year old started recognizing the song a little and sang the part, "tremble....tremble...tremble"and hearing her little voice sing just broke my heart and lifted it right up into the heavens. Oh, my girl. My God-loving, God-asking, God-praying girl.

Then Pastor Matt and his wife each took turns reading Jesus' last words.

Pastor read, in a heart-wrenching voice, Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani? (Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?)

Tears fell. Heart opened. Wounds opened. I saw my wounds on his body.

Bells tolled.

The Christ candle was removed.

And we said the Lord's Prayer in darkness as rain poured heavy on the roof and left in silence.

Why is Good Friday called "Good?" We all asked this in the car on the way home.

On this Saturday, I wish you a Happy Holy Saturday, day of waiting, day of wondering and hoping.

We know now that Jesus rose again. Keep that hope strong throughout your life. He would want you to.

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