And then another, and another and another. And then the next roll. And the next….
A view from upstairs and you can see what it is. The chairs are all gone and the tape marks the outline of where the congregation normally sits.
Why? Because Good Friday isn’t comfortable.
Then came the musicians.
Plugging in cords. Setting up microphones. Tuning the cello and the guitars.
Hey, you see those two over there? What are they doing? I don’t know.
They move from place to place around the room. Soon it’s obvious what they are doing.
They are praying. They are praying for the worshippers that will soon be coming in. .
Every one of them.
The pastors and musicians gather for prayer as people start wandering in. Some of the elderly sit in a row of chairs around the back. Everyone else sits on the floor.
Just enough light shows to help people pick out spots on the floor. Families sit in groups. Parents tell their little ones why it’s dark and why they are sitting on the floor.
Some are very comfortable on the floor, many are not. But more and more people are coming in.
It’s quiet, unusually quiet. Reflective, somber, anticipatory.
And more people come in. The ushers keep busy trying to find a place for them.
They succeed even as the empty spots get smaller and smaller. They ask and people gladly move closer together.
The minister spoke in the dark. Words of reverence and hope. Words of redemption. Words of awareness.
The music joined in – many of the musicians were playing from their heart and soul – and without any written music. The music wove itself throughout the room, turning people’s hearts to Jesus and to Good Friday.
“Were the whole realm of nature mine, that would be a present far too small.” A heartfelt admission that we are more broken than we think we are and more loved than we could ever imagine.
The seven stations of the cross – followed by a candle being extinguished. The darkness grows.
Judas betrays Jesus. The darkness grows.
Peter denies Jesus. The darkness grows.
The thief begs for salvation. The darkness grows.
Every step of the way, the darkness grows.
“Father into thy hands, I commit my spirit.
It’s late on Friday and a wise man and a believer worked with the Mary’s and get him down and buried him.
It’s Friday – but Sunday’s coming.
The pastors jointly said, “May the Lord Bless you, may the Lord make his face to shine on and keep you. Go forth in the knowledge it is currently Friday, but Sunday’s coming.
Sunday is coming and God is so so good.
When we can’t see……
When we can’t see why bad things happen…..
When we can’t see why bad things happen to good people.
When we don’t want…..
When we don’t want these bad things to happen……
When we don’t want to deal with the pain and grief of these bad things
When we don’t want to wrestle with the why question. Why God?
When we don’t think……
When we don’t think we can handle one.more.day……
When we get angry at God thinking He must not care because….
When we don’t get it.
When we don’t understand God’s plans and it makes us doubt.
When we want to…..
When we want to scream and holler and throw things…..
When we want to scream at God and say, “God, why don’t you do something?”
And we just hear silence
And more silence.
And the sound of our tear drops is the only noise that breaks the silence.
Until we hear a still, small voice.
“I’m here. I’ve got you. Trust me.”
“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”
You’re sitting in the lunch room at work (or any sort of similar place) and the topic turns to what you all did over the weekend.
The stories are piling up and each one tries to sound bigger and “better” than the previous one. You just sit there watching and listening and wondering.
Wondering? Yes. Wondering.
Wondering, what am I doing sitting here with people who do things and say things that I don’t find appropriate?
What am I doing even being around that kind of talk? Do I stay or do I go?
Do I stay and just sit quietly.
Or do I go? And if I go, do I go loud? Or do I go quiet?
“Hey ya’ll, I forgot that I’ve got to finish a report for a meeting at 3:00, I’m going to go get busy.”
“Hey ya’ll, I don’t know how much of what you’re saying is true, but it bothers me that you talk about __________ that way.”
Suddenly, the conversation stops. Everyone looks at you and it’s quiet for maybe 15 seconds but it seems like forever. Then one of the loud ones starts laughing.
Laughing like you just said the funniest thing in the history of comedy. Laughing because by saying what you did, you revealed to them how different you are.
And it made them uncomfortable. So, they hid it by laughing.
You slowly pack up your lunch stuff and head back to your workspace and get busy doing what you’re supposed to do.
Lunch breaks is over. The gang heads back to work. They walk right past you like you weren’t even there. A couple of them move more slowly and put space between them and the rest. They quietly stop by your space and mumble something like, “thanks for standing up to them” or “I agree with you.”
The day is over, you head home. For devotions that night, you start reading Psalm 1.
“How well God must like you—
you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.”
Psalm 1:1 MSG
So what college did you go to? Did you go to Smart Mouth College?
Do you hang out at Sin Saloon?
What is your Sin Saloon? It’s not the same for everyone.
But we all have one (or more). You know those places, activities, thoughts that you know aren’t good but you find them so hard to leave alone.
But you know you should.
God wants you to.
God wants me to.