One of my favourite liturgical celebrations is our Good Friday ceremony. We started doing it as a sensory service a few years back and it makes for a really nice service. Especially considering the somber nature of Good Friday. It takes a good day to prepare for what ends up being an hour and a half, but it is definitely worth it. A sensory service is meant to engage all of your senses, allowing you to worship in tactile and imaginative ways. This year we had the following stations (descriptions from the order of service):
The Cross – this cruel instrument of torture has become one of the most recognizable religious symbols. Often crosses are worn or carried by the faithful as a personal reminder of their faith in the crucified God. At the front door is a small vessel of holy water; traditionally the holy water is used to mark your forehead with the sign of the cross.
Reflect: Jesus’ asks you to take up your own cross and follow him.
Prayer Station – from the Eastern tradition, a small candle represents our prayers ascending towards heaven. Please light a small candle and melt the bottom of that candle to stick it to the board. Please make sure the candle is firmly attached before leaving this station. A pillow below the table serves as a kneeler for those who so desire.
Reflect: Jesus faced the suffering of the passion strengthened by a life of prayer.
The Garden – Matthew, Mark and Luke each give us a rich narrative of night of our Lord’s betrayal. In this blended reading, we are encouraged to reflect on Jesus’ struggle with all that was ahead. Interestingly, only Luke adds the dramatic angelic visitation and “sweat as great drops of blood.” But this is fitting imagery for Jesus’ preparing to enter the God forsakenness of the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
Reflect: Christ knows intimately the struggle to do the right thing, no matter the cost.
The Passion – soundless this film provides a visual depiction of the Stations of the Cross. This film gives a strong sense of the depth of suffering Jesus bore for us. Luther was very disturbed by the tendency, in his day, to beautify the cross, it is important that we never forget that the death of Jesus is an absolute scandal. Yet, Jesus willingly bore all the indignity of his passion for us.
Reflect: Jesus was willing to suffer the scandal of the cross for you.
Stations of the Cross (I-XIV) – The tradition of the Stations of the Cross comes out of a desire for the faithful to walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows). In many traditional churches the stations are sculpted into the walls of the sanctuary, seven on each side. The pilgrim is encouraged to stop at each station and reflect on the long and painful journey Christ made to the tomb.
Object of Christ’s Joy – For the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross (Heb 12:1-2). Paul tells us that the only reasonable response to Christ’s overwhelming act of love is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1-2). Above the mirror are the words: "Whom Christ loved".
Reflect: No greater love is there than to lay down your life for your friends (John 15:15).
The Eucharist – The Lord’s Table is central to our Christian faith, it is also where the passion narratives start. For those wishing to participate in common cup, please use the provided clothe to wipe the rim of the cup. Other cups are provided for those who wish their own.
Reflect: Jesus’ longs to share this meal with you.
This year we began with a short community celebration including prayers, songs and some scripture readings. My seven year old read the ancient hymn from Phillipians 2! Then we opend the stations (I opened the Eucharistic table with my daughter assisting me, that was really nice). After a while we came back into the main room to prepare for Holy Saturday, I closed the Eucharistic table and we covered the cross. We concluded with a benediction, it was a really nice service.
Next stop Easter Sunday brunch! Have a great Easter all.