Last night was our Good Friday service, one that contained a combination of worship and examining confession at the foot of the cross. It’s hard to put into words what that means, and Brian said it best when he told everyone that the cross speaks for itself, and it does. There really aren’t words that are sufficient enough to describe the power of the cross and what Christ did on that day. So, in keeping with words aren’t needed, I’ll let the photos here speak for themselves as well, which is one of the reasons I love photography as much as I do.
This is a very late version of Friday Feet today, but it’s technically still Friday. This late post is because We had an incredible, very humbling, Good Friday service today-tonight, (a post which will have to wait until tomorrow when I can get to the images). After finishing up a book review for Liberty this morning, my Friday-day-off became a mow as much grass as can be mowed in one afternoon. That’s not as bad as it sounds, I actually like getting out on the tractor, it gives me an escape of sorts to be able to listen to a book or something like that.
I know many people who do their thinking while they run, or ride, but I do mine while I’m on the tractor. It takes just about as long (that’s a good thing) to ride 30-40 miles, or run 10-15 miles, as it does to mow acres of grass. All that and I have less of a chance to get run over by a passing car too. It’s hard not to think about Holy Week, and the significance of it all, but I’ll elaborate on tonight’s service in the next post.
For now, the grass is green and growing fast, and the garden is about to be washed in purple. Our purple Iris’ (photo below), are about to bloom surrounding our red Double Knockout Roses. You may not look for the symbolic among creation, but I do, and I love the fact that we have purple flowers about to bloom, the day before Easter, surrounding blood red roses… royalty of a King, surrounded by the blood shed for me and you, all displayed in a tiny little flower garden in south Alabama. The larger version taking place on Auburn’s campus is seen just below, but then again, all of creation proclaims the Glory of God (Romans 1:20 and others).
Last night was the Cornerstone Church Maundy Thursday gathering, a time spent in prayer, communion, Christian meditation, and confession. This night was much different than last year, in many ways much more simple. This year a big part of looking forward to tonight, Good Friday, was to look at our own sin, and practice confession as it is called for in James 5.16, and many other places in Scripture. There weren’t really any good places to hide, but in a dimly lit worship area the boards were filled with people following the command to confess before each other, and before God. Confession in our culture has been almost completely removed at this point, so much so, I commented last night that we don’t even know how to do this any more.
For many of us, I’m sure it was the first time we had been given the opportunity to participate in confession in this manner, and it lasted until 1am on Friday morning. Below are some images I took around the room (before the congregation was brought in, no I didn’t not go around taking photos of people’s confessions). Tonight we all come back together again to observe the meaning of Good Friday. [On a side note, the image of Jon playing the guitar below in black and white is my Project 365 (P365.me :2012 gallery) image for Day 129].
Every year, on this day, Maundy Thursday, we come to the Lord in prayer, as Jesus did with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. On that night, Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray… because our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak (Matthew 26:36-46), and then Jesus was betrayed by one of his own inner circle friends. Every year at our church is slightly different, but each year, this evening is set aside for prayer, the Lord’s supper, and meditation on what our Lord went through on Good Friday. I love that image above from last year (see also Messages from the Heart to God in Chalk Board Prayers :: Photos) where everyone wrote their prayers in chalk as they moved through the night.
I looked back over and read some of my journal entries from that night a few years ago, and it’s amazing what that great spiritual discipline of meditation can do for the soul. In my entry from 2009 I wrote this sentence after being there for an hour or so.
It is almost impossible to wrap your mind around what everything here tonight represents in history. I understand nothing, but I love what I don’t understand.
There are only a few more days of Lent for 2012, today being Day 44 (if you count Sunday’s), and our reading today came from the Book of Common Prayer (only $2.99 on Kindle by the way). Something I don’t get a chance to read all that often, but love its wisdom.
Almighty God, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
May that be the prayer for today.
Last night from 8pm to 8am (that’s Maundy Thursday from 8pm until today, Good Friday at 8am) our church, Cornerstone, had its annual observation of what Jesus and his disciples did on that Thursday night as explained in the Gospels. Our observations follow that tradition with communion, feet washing, and then an open area for prayer and Christian meditation similar to what Jesus and his disciples did in the garden of Gethsemane.
It is actually hard to explain. I was trying to find words, and obviously some photos, to explain the night to someone who wasn’t able to be there in person, but nothing I can think of gives an adequate representation of the night, and the experience I believe is different for each individual who moves through the worship setting. Each year I come expecting, expecting something specific, some preconceived notions of what the night will bring, and each year those are basically thrown out the window by the time I get in the car to come home. Last night was no different. While I didn’t spend as much time in the “garden” area last night, I did experience something new as a believe, and I had the privilege of helping others come into the worship experience who had never been here before.
Something interesting happens when we as believers take a moment to set aside time to spend with God without distractions, without cell phones beeping, without people running about. Our lives are so busy, so hurried from one thing to another that we rarely have time realistically observe Psalm 46:10, to just “be still and know He is God”. That is what last night typically tries to achieve. It isn’t something that just pops out of the air, it takes a lot of preparation, and a willing spirit.
Below are a few photos of what was the main part of the room. The photo above is Rusty preparing to serve communion and out of the photo behind me is a foot washing station. After communion people were able to proceed into the main area through the garden around the “I AM” statements of Christ where they could read scripture, contemplate on information about each area, write on an adjacent board with chalk, feel the grass of the garden, or just sit and pray.
Tonight, on Good Friday, we turn our eyes towards the cross and the amazing sacrifice Jesus made by dying for the sins of the world. It’s all connected, all part of the same story, part of my story.
We hear this all the time, come to worship, or come to God being expectant or with an expectant heart, but what should we be expecting, and what exactly is Maundy Thursday? For several years now this week has been a time of the year I look forward to all throughout the year. Holy Week, and Maundy Thursday in particular, is observed in many different ways around the world, but it’s a unique night for our Cornerstone family. Personally, I do prepare for the night in advance. I bring at least one Moleskine and a pen or pencil, expecting God to be there with me as I go through the night. The last few years I have written names of people I pray for while I’m in the room along with areas of my life I want to give back to the Lord.
I just love dedicated times of Christian meditation (or reflection) since they are so few and far between for our world today. Christian meditation is the counter opposite of what we do in our culture today, so it almost makes us uncomfortable at this point. Both Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2 among many others, tells us to meditate on the scriptures day and night, so one night out of the year on Maundy Thursday is a great launching point for the rest of the year.
What is Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday is of course the day before Good Friday, which is the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. It is also called “Holy Thursday”, which is part of the greater week called “Holy Week” or Passion Week. The date changes according to the schedule of Easter, which changes each year. Maundy Thursday is the date that Jesus celebrated the passover, which became known as the last supper, and instituted what we know as communion. The two main events if you will that occur on Maundy Thursday are washing of feet and communion. The washing of feet was done by Jesus after supper was over (John 13:3-17) to give his disciples an example of humility and to show them a great act of love, providing all of us with an example of how we should treat others.
Scholars agree that the English word Maundy comes from mandé, from the Latin mandatum, or “command”. The first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”), the statement by Jesus in the John 13:34 where Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.
How Will We Observe Maundy Thursday
In our church specifically, Maundy Thursday is a time period from 8pm to 8am set aside as a time of meditation and reflection. Much in the same way Jesus prayed in Gethsemane on that Thursday night as described in Matthew 26:36-46 before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Matthew 26:36-46 is part of a larger story of course, but a few sections earlier we see that Jesus celebrates the passover with his disciples and then institutes The Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:17-25 and Matthew 26:26-29 respectively).
Because the bible doesn’t mandate or command (or deny) the observation of Maundy Thursday specifically, observing this night is something that some churches do and some don’t. Before we came to Auburn I don’t really remember being in a church that observed Maundy Thursday night into Good Friday quite like this, but it is an experience I would hope everyone could go through.
In a world increasingly busy and full of distractions how can we ever stand still long enough to just be an awe of God and his brilliance. Maundy Thursday is that night, at least for our church. Each year I hope to pull a little more momentum from that night into the remainder of the year, trying to remember God also finds us in our silent meditation of his word.
This Friday for Friday Feet the plan was to focus on the day at hand, Good Friday. We had a nice relaxing day at home on Friday in preparation for the Good Friday service and it ended up being one of the more memorable services that either Deborah or I have been to in years. Just about half way into the service the tornado sirens started sounded. The service was interrupted for about 30 minutes while we all hunkered down to one side of the worship area.
What made the service so memorable was how unscripted the whole evening was. As we came back together and stared to focus on what makes this day special, the hail, thunder, and lightning started to come down in full force. This was not a “traditional” service but the way it came together was so special. I am thrilled to be a part of a church that is willing to interpret worship in many different ways.
On the way home it became apparent that the storm system that went through the area had made its way out to our property. Tree after tree had been uprooted, snapped in half, and literally thrown all over the place. The photo below at night was what we found as we drove in from the service. A cedar tree topped and covering the road. Once morning arrived we found about a 75 foot pine tree that was just blown over, making my Friday Feet image.
After surveying the damage out this way we found out that there were one and possibly two tornadoes that came through the property. They were small, but had two visual sightings and see to skip around the houses for the most part.
Happy Easter to everyone.
Last weekend Deb and I went back down to Gulf Shores for a quick camping trip. Of course, being that we were camping we had no Internet access (at least non-cellular) which was weird, so I have some catching up to do on my blog. I haven’t missed a Friday Feet post since I started it last year so this post-dated version was from last Friday.
Always an interesting weather time weather wise down here where thunderstorms usually start to roll in and winter still tries to hang on. One day it is freezing and the next is it hot. Thursday we arrived to a blustering tornatic frontal system and Friday it was sunny and hot. It was still a great time to relax away from the computer and start thinking about Holy Week coming up.
I have several posts coming up on photos from that weekend, a few book reviews, and many more, stay tuned. Have a great Holy Week this week.