Sorrow and Gratitude Mingle…

DSC_0430I attend an Anglican church. This one has all the bells and whistles. Holy Week offers a profound worship experience every day, especially Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Wednesday night was Tenebrae.

Two men dressed in black robes chant solemnly and beautifully, two of the Benedictine night watches. Over the course of the hour long service 12 candles are snuffed out as the artificial lights dim to match. We who listen stand, sit and kneel on cue to fit the scripture as they sing hauntingly. Near the end, only the candle representing Christ remains. The chanters move to read their scripture set to music by this only source of light.

Then, even that light is removed. This symbolizes the death of Jesus on the Cross for us.  Fifty or so of us sit in complete darkness and silence, together, contemplating the meaning of the darkness. Just as the silence becomes comfortable, a huge shock of a noise, like a large wooden door being slammed in a violent storm, jolts us all. It is intentional. It represents the jarring of creation as the Messiah takes our sins on Himself. I find myself in barely controllable tears. I want to WAIL!

At the foot of the cross I feel the anguish of my own sin. Not just against God, but against my family and friends, against society. Without Jesus I am, we all are, eternally separated from the Creator and all of creation as it is intended to be.

But it does not end there…. The Christ Candle reappears! Only the Christ candle.

The story is not over. On Good Friday, in the face of death, there is hope. There is gratitude for the promise of the Resurrection. There is power greater than death. There is reconciliation with God, creation, family, friends and society.

There is still a heaviness in the air as all of us leave the dark church in silence. I sit in my car alone and let myself feel. The WAIL is released. Then, when I let go, the gratitude begins to drip into the car, into me. There is hope; even a bittersweet joy that begins to touch each of those recently exposed places.

We are never alone. The past is just that, past. That’s what Good Friday is about.

Join me in giving Jesus those new, or recurring, thoughts of your mistakes, offenses or worse! He does not take them reluctantly. He wants them. He died for them. He slammed the door on them…. forever.

Often, once we give them to Jesus ,they still like to try to harass. All we need to do is say, out loud when possible, “No. Jesus took it. I am forgiven!” Receive the very costly, yet free to you, gift.

Will you let go and allow the love of God heal the exposed and the hidden places? 

Andrea (Madden) Van Boven : I like to think I am a radical lover of Jesus, but I live in a house and pay bills and look like I fit in with respectable society, like most people. What goes on in my head and heart are hopefully the things that betray the look of "normal" that comes at first glance. I hope those things inside of me seep out to actions as well as words of hope and encouragement. I pray that these in turn will lead others to know the loving creator who knows us so intimately that he has a number for every hair on every head.

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