Went to the Service of Darkness tonight at Church. I love these services, and the way they force us to come face to face with the ugliness of Good Friday, so that Easter morning is that much more beautiful. As much as we would like, we cannot escape the sheer brutality of what happened that day. We cannot have Sunday's resurrection without Friday's crucifixion.
After the service I stuck around to walk through the Stations Of The Cross. It was incredibly moving. It reminded me of walking a Labyrinth. 7 artists in our church supplied 2 works of art each, to help illustrate the stations. There was a booklet with a picture of each piece, relevant verses of scripture, an explanation and a prayer for each station. The booklet also included descriptions by each artist of what inspired and motivated them to create each piece, and what they were thinking as they did, which I found most interesting of all. I was amazed at the level of talent within our congregation. I also really love the fact that my church places such a high emphasis on art in worship. Several stations offered opportunities for interaction. Station 2, when the cross is laid upon him had an actual cross for picking up, and feeling the weight. The stations where Christ fell (3,7 and 9) all had stones for you to kneel on, so you could feel the sensation of cobblestone or gravel on your knees. Station 8, where Christ meets the women of Jerusalem, and tells them not to weep, had tiny cups of salty water so you could taste their tears. Station 11, the Crucifixion, had a hammer, huge nails, and a piece of wood for you to nail into. I'm so proud of my church for offering an opportunity like this for the community. I think it would be great if we could leave them up all year long, but unfortunately we just don't have the room.
Tonight's experience made me wish I were more creative. I'm far too lazy. It also brought to mind something that's particularly appropriate for today, which we all might get a kick out of. I haven't read this in forever, but I thought i could include it here, for posterity.
Inside the stony gateway awaits the anxious hoard.
They nervously anticipate the coming of the Lord.
Through the ancient doorway rides the only son of God,
To traverse the cobble roadway holy feet have yet to trod.
"Hosanna! Blessed is the king!" the master hears them say,
Bearing coats and branches that they lay down in His way.
He cries for them, and knows deep down inside for Him, their hate.
An ass's colt His mount as Jesus enters through the gate.
Now they wait, outside the gate, an angry mob this time,
To see the man condemned to die, though guilty of no crime.
A heavy cross upon His back, and beaten half to death,
He struggles up the muddy hill, gasping for a breath.
Though His burden's heavy, from the maddening crowd He hears
Streams of curses aimed at Him, blaspheming in His ears.
He knows His death is imminent, Golgotha will not wait.
In spite of this, He loved me still, while stumbling out the gate.
Hanging there upon a tree, His soul vacates it's shell,
Through the murky depths descends the catacombs of Hell.
Bound in chains the souls of those who died before the cross.
His holy ones will be redeemed, they shall not suffer loss.
Forgiving sin, the sacrifice, He died all souls to save.
Three days and nights His body lay, lifeless, in the grave.
He breaks the bonds and steals the keys to seal the tempter's fate.
Hell cannot prevail against this rock who stormed the gate.
A stranger to this world, I am - a pilgrim in this place.
My path is straight and narrow made because of Jesus' grace.
Atoned by substitution - Praise the Father! Praise the Son!
Praise the Holy Spirit - for it's nothing I have done.
My righteousness as filthy rags, I scarce can take it in.
Grace, like a bloody blanket, warms my heart and hides my sin.
Lord, should I falter and forget thy goodness, do not wait,
To take my hand and lead me to my home beyond the gate.
- Jason Thomas, 1991 (age 14)
BONUS: a prize for anybody who can tell me what that picture is from. I'll be your best friend, too.