There is no Easter Friday

There are some churches, I have heard, who have opted for Friday and Saturday Easter services. This, I suspect, is to make space for this weekend’s capacity crowds, or to facilitate more convenient Easter brunches. I’ve been thinking about these services, though, and I can’t shake the notion that without commemorating the climax of crucifixion, or the tension of death, the Gospel’s plot is flat. Discounting death and lament neuters the resurrection.

There’s no such day as Easter Friday or Easter Saturday. Without the lament of death, or the stench of the grave, there can be no celebration of resurrected glory.*

*This is not to say that those who regularly meet on Fridays or Saturdays should be ashamed of celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Nor is this to say that those who celebrate a strict Holy Week should take pride in following rote tradition. Instead, the point is commemorating each facet of the Gospel story with intention.

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And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him,they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him,wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Question: What do you see in the Cross of Christ?

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  • A million times YES to this. I am so grateful for our small church plant that has the margin and desire to make room for a Good Friday service. I’m looking forward to stepping into the shadows of this scandalous night on my way to Sunday. There’s no other path to take.

    • sethhaines

      Thanks, Kristen. I am with you in the shadows.
      Where’s your church? I’d love to hear more about it.

      • In 2011 my husband and I parachuted into Las Vegas from Minnesota with our young family (and not much else) to start Advance Church. It was completely ridiculous, and yet totally like God. After spending a year gathering a bunch of strangers (and a few families who followed us out from MN) together in our living room, we renovated a space in a little strip mall where we now average about 85 people on a Sunday, a handful of whom are homeless friends who literally sleep outside our front doors. It’s been slow going in a town as transient as this, but we love it here and are grateful every day that we were crazy enough to obey when God said, “Go.” http://advancechurch.cc/

        Oh, also, we are a plant of the Evangelical Covenant Church which Diana Trautwein (who you know through A Deeper Story, yes?) was a pastor for in my hometown, Santa Barbara.

        • sethhaines

          Thank you for sharing this! And yes, I know the ECC pretty well. Good crew of folks.

          I hope you enjoyed your Easter Sunday!

  • Brilliant stuff, Seth. Great work.

  • Jenn Jesmer

    When I see the cross these days I think about the relationship between dying with Christ and the joy of salvation, and wanting to be able to express this paradox with words that express the beauty. Lately I have been familiar with the sting of sanctification. Lent! When I hope for those who don’t know Jesus to know him, in an odd way I am hoping that they too would go through the sting of sanctification, the death. I am sitting with this for a while. Mourning the sin that separates my loved ones from Christ, and mourning the sin I so frequently turn back to. Mourning it because it cost Jesus death, but also mourning the pain that it may cost them to remove it as well, as well as the pain that sin has caused them so far. Mourning the curse. I am sitting with this for a while, and I pray that when Sunday comes I will have the strength to lift my head from all this to see the joy.

    • Jenn Jesmer

      Our church had our Good Friday service last night, I should add! We normally meet in a movie theater, so on special occasions like this we have to rent out a church space. Churches here are pretty full Good Friday, it was easier for us to rent on Thursday night.

      • sethhaines

        That’s awesome. Thanks for your thoughts here. I really appreciate them. I hope you’re living into a good Eastertide.

  • Josh Freeman

    “What do you see in the Cross of Christ?”

    Maybe some can relate to the experience of growing up in a rural setting and fooling around with a rock, or a slingshot, or a BB gun, and although you didn’t really imagine you’d hit that bird or rabbit or whatever, you did and there it is on the ground. Dead, really dead, for no reason except that you killed it. Shock. Shame. Heaviness. Oh, shit. When I imagine the Cross alone, with all the rest of it not-yet, that’s the feeling I get.

    I don’t have any more artful words with which to paint the Crucifixion, or profound analogies to draw. I don’t really *want* to talk about it. The Lord Jesus is dying up there and I didn’t mean for this to happen and I want to yell FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET HIM DOWN but I can’t, because everybody saw me with the hammer.

    In Matthew, both of those crucified alongside Jesus mocked and reviled Him, while in Luke, one of them defends Him. It never occurred to me until recently to wonder if that discrepancy is because one of them changed his mind after hanging there a while. I wonder, if that’s the case, where he found the perspective to see past that moment, to see Christ enroute to His kingdom, and to ask for remembrance in faith that anything might get better.

    • sethhaines

      I didn’t get around to this comment till today, but it is really timely. In today’s lectionary readings, Peter is preaching after Pentecost. He’s telling the people, “you murdered the Messiah,” and they have that exact same reaction. “Whoa… what have we done?”

      Here is a link to the readings. Check out the Acts reading. http://www.esvbible.org/devotions/bcp/

  • pastordt

    Totally agree, Seth. You gotta walk through all of Holy Week. Thanks for this.

    • sethhaines

      Thank you, DT. I hope you’re enjoying the resurrection.

  • There’s no way to Sunday without first passing through Friday.

    Good words, Seth.

    Waiting in the shadows tonight.

    • sethhaines

      Thanks for reading along. I hope you had a glorious Easter.