It was a strange funny kind of Holy tonight. Good Friday was remembered around our kitchen table, instead of in a sanctuary around the stations of the cross. It is interesting how the hope of heaven and new life is magnified when one of our own’s mortal light has gone out.
It was just over one week ago when I received the call that my father-in-law had lost his many year long battle with depression. The news came across the cell signal as I stood in my kitchen. In fact, perhaps in the very same spot I had been standing when I received another life-altering phone call. Later that night, the very kitchen that has seen much dancing, worship and laughter would see more tears on the floor than can be counted and bottled up…again. As I laid there late that night (after kids were tucked into bed) I washed that kitchen floor once more with my tears. My kitchen has always been for me, some kind of holy space where I meet Jesus; where I worship; where I break in two and shake my fists in the air at God; where cuss words are uttered under my breath, just low enough to avoid small tender ears, in a moment of deep pain and frustration.
Tonight, Good Friday, what happened in my kitchen was holy. My sweet Mama Sue (my Mother-In-Love) had decided to stay with us for a few days and in our grief it seemed best to just try to stay in and have our own remembrance. Our celebration was birthed out of a Voxer thread between two friends and I. One sweet friend shared her Maundy-Thursday experience at the Anglican Church she is currently attending. Then I remembered a Seder Passover meal we shared just this past year with another dear friend. Add to that, mourning, three squirrely children and my own Good Friday service background and you get a Good Friday service that begins with Enchilada casserole and ends with a slamming of a book on a table and a re-lit candle.
Our service was basically a mash-up of Baptist pot-luck, Anglican Maundy-Thursday candle lighting, Jewish Passover Seder, the reading of the Last Supper from the Jesus Storybook Bible plus a poorly animated cartoon Passover Cartoon. There was a wiggly 3 year old that almost ignited himself in flames from the candles, two sisters fighting over who would light and extinguish which candles and also did vocal wrestling to answer any questions asked so they might appear the most knowledgeable… There was the frantic last minute phone call to my sweet Seder Passover professional friend as to what (exactly) should be on the Seder plate. There was the dog biscuit bone in lieu of a lamb bone. My friend said it was ok, so I went with it. There was the dipping of the parsley in too much horseradish by the second oldest child. The youngest kept stealing one matzah bread (aka. artisan cracker, in our case) out of the napkins. We made up the blessings for each of the four cups of wine (in our case, grape juice).
The whole thing was improvised and the Spirit of God was tangible in spite of our lack of knowledge and poise.
go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Over the past two years, the Lord has been impressing on me discipleship begins at home. He continues to remind me that all nations means this nation, this house, this family too.
I can get so busy discipling outside my own four walls, that I forget it all must start and end with the legacy of faith in Jesus and friendship with Him right here at home.
As I was contemplating where we might attend a Good Friday service, the forecast turned to snow and I thought about being out in public with my dear Mama Sue who may just prefer an intimate family remembrance at home. And there the Holy Spirit whispered again, Make disciples. Sometimes making disciples in my own home means going to a service, sometimes it means improvising my own via the wisdom of sweet friends and Google.
We lit 33 candles, one for each year of Jesus’ life. Then, one by one, we took turns snuffing out all but the very last candle. That one candle burned and we talked about Jesus, the hope and light of the world on a night just like this one over 2000 years ago. We told each other the story of His betrayal and death on a cross, of his great love and sacrifice even unto death. Then we blew it out, symbolizing that dark evening upon which He died and all went dark. Hopeless. Still. Quiet, except for the sobs of his beloved mother and friends.
Silence fell around the table, even upon the youngest. I reached for a big book and slammed it down on the table, startling everyone; representing the curtain tearing in the temple and the earth quaking as the sin that separated God from man was no more a barrier. No more priests. No more sacrifices. Jesus had become our great high priest, our direct line and bridge to God the Father.
The last candle was re-lit symbolizing the hope that is ours for the taking when we accept Christ’s payment for our sin and trade in death for life. The darkness is dispelled by the lighting of just the one candle, reminding us gathered around that table (especially tonight) that no matter how dark the night, the light of Jesus cuts through. Reminding us that death, the great swallower, has been swallowed by the death and subsequent resurrection of the Perfect Lamb, our Jesus. Reminding us, that although weeping may last for the night, joy comes in the morning. Reminding us that He (Jesus) and he (Harold) is not dead, but living forever in heaven with the Father. One day we will see and know this for ourselves. Until that day, we cling to this memory of Good Friday and hold on with all hope for Sunday.