Easter is SO important and goes so quickly away in our memories. I’ve been blessed these last couple years to celebrate it twice, once with my church family and once with my friend’s… Orthodox Easter is tomorrow and tonight is midnight services to get to see and celebrate an Easter feast just after. It was beautiful Good Friday service last night even if I didn’t understand most of the words sung, I certainly knew why we were reverent, it was Good Friday in this Orthodox church’s Holy Week remembrance and pilgrimage. We sang, walked around the church, and sang again, and I listened and tried to sing from the program – it was hard not knowing the words or what they meant. This was my mini “world of no words”. My friend explained some of it but I now have great difficulty hearing whispers in a room full of sound. It was OK to not understand and this directly caused me to pause for thoughts. Of course the music was beautiful and every page had one verse in English that we sang and was a glimpse of the other verses. One was: “As a lamp of light beneath a bushel is hid, so now also in the earth is God’s flesh concealed. And doth drive away the gloom of Hades’ realm.” YES, HOPE FROM THE GRAVE.
This WAS a sorrow-filled time for the disciples that Friday and the Sabbath day Saturday when they normally would have been WITH their Lord in flesh. For Jesus was crucified, the sunlight gone, the creation moaned, the people trembled. They had not understood there was good in any of this. Jesus was dead. We in the service kept our candles lit in remembrance, but even those wicks kept going out, drowning in wax. No words, no light. Jesus had died.
The world of no Word, the Living Word, Jesus, God with us, Name above all names, Light of the World stepped down into darkness, was silent in speaking, in the living, but Mighty in moving in the moment. The world of no Words made the disciples trembled into hiding.
Yet, there were some words, of ruling authorities who heard the prediction of the Savior rising in 3 days, wanted the disciples to NOT steal the body and falsely claim resurrection, so they sent guards to keep the tomb secured.
There were Words of the fullness of scripture just before Jesus gave up His Spirit, and so Heaven was satisfied before earth duties completed. There were Words between the brave Jewish leaders who became secret believers, Joseph of Arimathea and Pharisee Nicodemus, who took down the body of Jesus and wrapped it ceremoniously, after speaking to Pilate for approval of the retrieval of Him off the cross.
There were Words of Good Friday that we don’t know. But I imagine there were many who had no words to understand it all.
In the end of this 3 hour service, I was able to walk thru the church with my friend, all areas were accessible, and with a kid’s enthusiasm I was able to climb under the tall table to the Cross displayed with flowers around Jesus’s crown of thorns. It is symbolic of cleansing of sins to pass under the table and all evening people did as they came and went. We were given flowers and could take some more from the table. All evening the cross looked beautiful with flowers and a scarf blocking the view of Jesus’s face. How fitting. The face blocked until I got up real close inside the table area and I could see Him. How fitting for with Jesus’s act on the cross, we are forgiven and able to BE up and close with God ALWAYS. Thank You Jesus. Thank You for the curtain torn, the law fulfilled, the forgiveness and forever.
The people kissed His feet and I thought about the serpent crushed under those feet. Forever peace is in our heavenly future.
My favorite words of the evening were from the priest, spoken to me in English, as I kissed the scripture book after walking around the building and stepping under the cloth tent carried on the pilgrimage. The priest said: “Bless you.” Now those are WORDS I heard loud and clear with my Spirit, and not just my ears…
Good Friday and Everyday… blessed…
John 2:18-22 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
The Death of Jesus, John 19:28-42 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
The Burial of Jesus
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.
Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.