For years, my family was the Christmas and Easter family. We didn’t attend church weekly, we didn’t even attend church monthly, but we were always present for Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday services. It wasn’t until I was well into my twenties, I became a regular church-goer.
So many things were new to me – the small groups during the week, worship feeling like a small concert leaving me emotional, and the inevitable fervor for the special holidays. Before I truly came to walk with the Lord, attending church on Easter Sunday was largely about getting a new outfit. As an adult, who was now paying for her own clothing, I wanted to immerse myself in understanding why Easter Sunday was the real deal.
The church I attended, in my new days as a believer, also held a Good Friday service. I will admit I had no understanding of Good Friday, but I went along with my House Church. The meaning, and the impact of the day quickly became clear to me, and I’ve never been the same.
When I think about a Midwestern Easter, I see hues of yellow and orange and imagine wildflowers and the warmth of sunshine. The lyrics of “Love Came Down” run through my head – Love came down and rescued me, Love came down and set me free. I am Yours, Lord, I’m forever Yours. Easter is a day of victory and celebration.
Before fully understanding what Good Friday and a service in its honor would entail, I was misled by the name. The events of Good Friday are unsettling- it’s the day when God’s plan for a broken world culminated in the beating, taunting, and crucifixion of His Son. As the pastor shared about the instruments used to bring pain to a human body, I flinched. As he described how the crown of thorns wasn’t simply placed on Jesus’ head, but pressed into His scalp, my heart beat faster. And as he shared of Jesus crying out to His Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?” moments before taking His last breath, I couldn’t stop crying.
What was good about this day? Why was this even something we honored? Celebrating the undoing of a man and dedicating an entire service to His torture and dishonorable death felt as far away on the spectrum from good as one could get.
His death means your life. I heard it soft that day and it reverberates still. In every season, whether I am in step with Jesus or struggling to make time for Him, Good Friday reminds me of this.
Before we set our eyes on Easter Sunday and the glory and triumph it means for each of us and the Kingdom we serve, may we consider all that had to transpire. In the anticipation of Easter Sunday, can we set our hearts on the darkness that came before Light? Good Friday reminds us evil cannot stand, because Victory has been, and always will be, ours.
This year, Good Friday and Easter Sunday look different, as we collectively shelter in place. I pray we don’t lose sight of what these days, this Holy week, mean for His church. As we work remotely, or prayerfully collect unemployment, or faithfully show up on the front lines of this pandemic, may we remember His death and resurrection hold just as much promise and peace as ever. He is not surprised by these days, and He still obediently went to the Cross. And His is still the victory. Victory is in our spiritual birthright, because Good Friday came first.