Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday Musings

If you're in the Cornland, IL area, and have no other plans this evening, our Good Friday service starts at 7pm. A little hymn singing. A little Scripture reading. The Lord's Supper. And a huge cross!
I got 3 of my teenage guys at Cornland to help carry the cross in for tonight's service, and then set it up on end. We got together last night to do a run-through of their part, so they would get used to the size and weight of it.
I had this cross made up when I was in my first ministry at a place called Wiener, AR. Wiener had a kind of community youth program, and the local ministers took turns with presenting the devotionals. We met in a Quonset hut with a concrete floor. I wanted to talk about Jesus command that whoever wants to follow him must deny himself and take up his cross. So, I went to the local lumberyard and got them to cut me some 8x8 lumber. I wanted to make it big and stout enough to actually crucify someone on it if the need arose. The cross piece, for the arms, is 6 ft across, and the vertical is 8 ft, I think. We could crucify basketball players on this thing! The two pieces fit together and are bound with some thick, coarse rope. It's not a comfort economy-size cross. As you can imagine, it's very heavy! For one final detail, I dubbed off the opening sound clip from an album by a rap group called "Gospel Gangstas." (go ahead; laugh.) I only mention that detail in case you should want to use the same idea. They staged in audio a sort of "ghetto crucifixion," with lines like "Sock that fool! Beat his brains! Beat him!" combined with appropriate sound effects. Anyway, the implied brutality is evident. I walked to the front, started the tape, and then walked to the back. They threw open a garage door, I got under this thing, and carried it down the aisle to the front of the room. By this time the sound byte had run out, and I gave my devotion on what it means to carry our cross and follow Jesus.
Putting the two pieces of wood together last night, and carrying it to the basement door, so the guys could bring it upstairs last night reminded me off the fire of my fresh-from-Bible-College youth. More importantly, I was reminded of what Jesus went through for me in the events that we celebrate today--in a manner that no movie will ever quite touch. Even though, historically, Jesus probably only carried the horizontal piece that he would be nailed to, he had been up all night, had had little if anything to eat or drink, and had experienced a beating that often killed those who received it! All this before he is even nailed to the cross!
So, when one of the guys asked me last night why I couldn't have made the cross hollow, and thus, lighter, my first thought was "It wouldn't have been real. It wouldn't have been right."
More on that Saturday. Even if you don't attend a church service today or tonight, I'd encourage you to take a few minutes, pick one of the four Gospel stories in the Bible, and read the crucifixion story. Then ask yourself, "Even if I could die in behalf of the rest of humanity, would I--knowing how many would outright reject the gift I've offered them?"

Listening to: "Behold the Lamb of God" from G.F. Handel's "Messiah"

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