“Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…” Isaiah 53:4
Every year, we gather with friends and family at the beach to worship God at sunrise every Good Friday. It’s become a tradition for our family. It was started by our friends the Wehmeiers – who host the Cimarrone Missional Community. We’ve been doing this together with them and others every Good Friday for the last five years or so. Naturally, we’ve extended this tradition to FCMC. After all, our missional communities are really just a gathering of friends and family trying to follow Jesus. This tradition just seems to fit. And it’s special, in part because I don’t know of anyone else who does this.
This is what we do. We gather. We enjoy fellowship. We share food. We remember what Jesus did for us. We give thanks and worship God. It’s pretty organic. There are a few logistics (time, a little coordinating of food, music, and this year, weather). Beyond that, there’s very little to organize. Email and the web-site make it pretty easy.
It’s pretty neat how God created in us a natural desire to form traditions. Traditions can become powerful, especially when they stay surrendered to Christ. (Sometimes, we turn things upside down.) Gathering for worship on Good Friday at Sunrise focuses me on Jesus in ways I had not anticipated. One of our friends, Abby, who was there for the first time, pointed that out and it made me think. As the story unfolds in the Bible, it was early in the morning, probably right after sunrise on Good Friday that Jesus would have been dragged before Pilate after being up all night. After experiencing agony in the garden, betrayal by one of his disciples, and desertion by the rest, Jesus was arrested, illegally tried, and humiliated. After all of that, Jesus was dragged across town and had to stand trial before Pilate – who knew Jesus was innocent, but condemned him anyway to appease the crowd. Think about it: Jesus allowed himself to be led right into the epicenter of injustice. Into our world’s indescribable mess, enduring unspeakable injustice, facing unthinkable evil, Jesus brought redemption, demonstrating grace, humility, courage, and love. In the middle of everything that demonstrates our separation from God and one another, Jesus stays on course – right to the cross. Jesus is just really good at demonstrating God’s transforming love. That’s good. That’s Good Friday good.
I think my brother-in-law Derek Maul captured it well in his blog entry: “Today is Good Friday. It’s a day when love stepped up beyond reason, set all defenses aside, and allowed hate to nail the best hope history ever saw to a wooden scaffold. However, rather than being ground into obscurity under the heel of fear and brutality, love transformed the crudely assembled cross from a symbol of torture and repression into the most enduring emblem of victory, promise, and redemption this world has ever known.”
That’s what I need to remember on Good Friday. And remembering that with friends at the beach as the sun rises, well, I just can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
Oh, and you are welcome to join us next year. Just bring a chair and a little food to share if it’s not too much trouble. We’d love sharing and welcoming new friends to our tradition.