Each year, I have the privilege of taking a part in a lunchtime ecumenical service at the local Roman Catholic church on Good Friday. Seven pastors, ministers, and priests give short 4-5 minute homilies on the Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross. I’ve taken part in this service for about 11 years and it never ceases to amaze me how much the Holy Spirit inspires each speaker.
I love the fact that we all gather together in one sacred place, as one holy church. The Crucified figure of Christ looms above each speaker and adds a pictorial poignancy to what we express. The whole worship service is a solemn reminder of what Jesus endured to save us from our sins. It’s a miraculous moment of mystery when the speakers and worshippers alike sit in awe. The whole place and service makes me feel guilty and sorrowful, absolved and thankful all at the same time.
I love the Cross of Calvary, but I hate what happened to Jesus. I love the freedom He brings me, but I despise my sins which nailed Him to the Cross. Good Friday has a spiritual ambivalence and a bittersweet attachment to my soul. But it fully prepares me for the glorious goodness that I experience on Easter, when I am fully restored to God on Resurrection Sunday. The curse of the Cross is broken by the very first rays of the rising sun, given to us gladly by the grace of the Risen Son of God.
In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy. Amen. (John Bowring)
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.