Last night, I went to New Life Community Church for Maundy Thursday worship. Scott had worked up a great service (although without a bulletin, which was really hard for this structured, fuddy-duddy Presbie to handle) and it was a special night. Readings and stories were shared, candles were lit and extinguished, there was a hand washing bit (because we use our hands the way the disciples used their feet), and even a couple of songs before communion. Scott concluded the emotional service by reading from SM Lockbridge's famous sermon, "It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming!"
Usually, I am not cool with this kind of talk- I tend to find it pretty cheesy. It hit me last night, though and I found myself crying throughout the whole service. If you're not familiar with the sermon, here's a bit to read:
It's Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter's denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It's Friday; but Sunday's a coming.
It's Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, "Father, forgive them." It's Friday; but Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, "My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?" What a horrible cry. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. And at the moment of Jesus' death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that's because it's Friday, and they don't know it, but Sunday's a coming.
And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.
Now it's Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn't the only thing that was shaking because now it's Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it's Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it's Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.
It's Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It's Sunday. And now everything has changed. It's the age of grace, God's grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it's Sunday.
It's Friday! But Sunday's a Coming!
So here's what had me crying- I feel overwhelmed by all the Friday in the world most days. Down here on the Coast especially- with the challenges of rebuilding, working with hurting people in a chronic state of need, sifting through church politics and grant funding, waiting and depending on volunteer labor, and the list goes on and on. Then I look up from my Gulf Coast Recovery bubble and see Friday everywhere else as well- with this darn war, with the election, within my own relationships, with my crappy dog-training skills, with that ruling-pharmaceutical-and-insurance-company-style heath care our nation promotes, with our failing public school systems, with the violence we see the world over, with all that I see with my eyes and all that I find within my own heart. I don't feel the weekend coming. I know it isn't fair to compare my inability to property train my dog with the issue of world peace or the crucifixion of Christ. But we're talking failure, brokenness, and hurt aren't we? Big and small, it's still failure, brokenness and hurt.
I don't mean to say that it's all Friday and sorrow and sadness all the time. I do occasionally catch glimpses of Sunday- when a homeowner called a couple of weeks ago to tell me that she spent the first night in her newly rebuilt home, when four sisters from four states gathered to laugh and love on one another for a weekend, when volunteers from all over the nation come to help neighbors they've never met, when I read the wedding announcement that arrived in the mail for a dear friend and her long time partner, when I say sit and Eddie's little bum hits the ground, and when I hear word of a new baby on the way, and on and on. But we never seem to relish in those lovely Sunday moments quite the way we wallow in the Friday times. And I've been doing a lot of wallowing lately. I suppose we've got to hurt through the Fridays in order to appreciate the Sundays. But, maybe I need to re-read my own Sunday list, and start focusing on those Sunday bits- no matter how few and far between they come.