“Friday is here, Sunday’s comin’.”
This was the answer I received from a friend yesterday in reply to the question: “How are you holding up?”
We enter into Holy Week this year with a unique understanding of the frailty and brokenness of our world. On Sunday, the Surgeon General of the United States claimed that this week will be the “hardest and saddest” week in the Coronavirus pandemic — even likening it to “our Pearl Harbor”.
Most of us are experiencing the weight of these things in similar ways: heightened fears, grief over the loss of “normalcy” as we knew it, renegotiating schedules, growing senses of isolation and loneliness, as well as a vague experience of what one of our pastors called an “ambient anxiety”. All of this caused by an unseen virus that has completely changed our world in the matter of weeks, and put us all face to face with the realities of the frailty of our world.
These things hit us in the face like a ton of bricks, and call into question so many of the ways we engage the world, things we look to for security and comfort, as well as how we see ourselves and the God whom we serve.
Yet, in the midst of these things, the truths we remember and celebrate in Holy Week create the potential for them to penetrate and affect our hearts in new and powerful ways this particular Holy Week.
We live in a world marked by death, pain, sin, brokenness, sorrow, fear, and despair. The beauty of the Christian story is that God is not unacquainted with our sorrows and our suffering (cf. Isa 53.3; Heb 4.15-16). What we celebrate on Good Friday is that the Lord of glory himself did not hide his face from the sorrow and suffering of our world. Rather, he stepped all the way into our pain, brokenness, and death by giving up his life and experiencing death himself — executed on a Roman cross beam as a base criminal.
This Friday at Redeemer, we will be remembering Good Friday slightly differently. Our normal Good Friday service is one of the most potent services of the year, and is both deeply reflective and worshipful in its structure. However, with the stay at home orders in effect, we will not be having our normal service this year — partly because it would likely not translate the same via live stream, and partly to acknowledge the uniqueness of this year and long for the time when we can gather in the same way again.
Instead, we will be live streaming a performance by Poor Bishop Hooper entitled Golgotha. This performance is a highly reflective service that moves musically through the stations of the cross. Several years ago they filmed one of their performances in our own Morton Hall, and we will be broadcasting that at 7:30pm on Friday night. I pray that this new expression will allow your heart to engage the terror, sobriety, and majesty of the cross of Jesus Christ in new ways this year. That you would be reminded of the magnitude of his sacrifice in taking upon him the wrath of God and the sins of the world.
Yet, what we celebrate does not end with Friday.
The beauty of what we celebrate this Sunday is that in the midst of this world, a ray of light has shattered through the darkness. Though it does not shine in full, and we wait for the full glory of a cosmic “Sunday”, Christ has become the firstfruits of the life that marks a new age, the age of God’s kingdom invading the world. This is what we celebrate every Sunday, and what we celebrate in a particular and unique way on Easter Sunday.
We remember that Jesus gave his life willingly and he takes it up again in the resurrection. We remember that the grave is empty. We remember that Christ conquered sin, death, and hell once and for all. And we remember that the firstfruits of life eternal have been granted in part to the people of God by the gift of the Spirit — as we wait for the day when Jesus will put to death the final foe of death, and reign in life forevermore.
This Easter, although we will not be gathered together, we still declare that the grim realities we experience in our world do not have the final say. We still declare that we have experienced the new life of Christ’s resurrection power in us. We will still declare that our only hope (and the world’s only hope) is that Christ is risen indeed.
We will worship together via livestream at 10am Sunday morning to proclaim — to our own hearts, to one another, and to principalities and powers — that CHRIST IS RISEN; that Friday does not have the final say; that Sunday has come and will come; that death is defeated, and the king of all the world is ALIVE.
Through this week, I pray that you would spend time reflecting on the work of Christ, the death of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ. I pray that in the midst of what will be for many of us one of the most severely destructive weeks we’ve ever experienced, that we would be reminded once again that though Friday is here, Sunday is coming!
We exist to cultivate communities of transformed disciples who live for the glory of God and the good of the city.
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8714 Antioch Road
Overland Park, KS
3921 Baltimore Avenue
Kansas City, MO