Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday

This is a very cold, windy Good Friday. Old-timers used to plant potatoes on Good Friday, so I've been told, but in weather like today, that would be an unpleasant task.

Our rural church still holds its Good Friday service in the morning, at 10 a.m. Husband stayed home to clean the cattleshed, and our two high-schoolers and I ventured to church. Our pastor uses a Stations of the Cross devotion booklet on Good Friday. According to the back page, the devotion was put together by Rev. John Fenton, from a text put out by the Order of St. Benedict. Included with each of the 14 "stations" is a meditation from the writings of Martin Luther. Anyway, I recognize Rev. Fenton's name, as he was also the compiler of the catechesis book that our pastor used to teach my son in Confirmation class last year. Rev. Fenton is very orthodox, and I think I read somewhere recently that he has now left the Lutheran Church and joined the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Anyway, I tried to move into the right frame of mind for the occasion of remembering the suffering and death of Jesus. The back of the service booklet said ".....this devotion aims not to encourage sympathy for our Lord or to pull the worshipper into the event, but to allow the pious to ponder and meditate on what our Lord had to endure to procure the soul's salvation." I guess that means to be an appreciative and reverent, but emotionally detached observer. And observe was all I could do in church this morning, as I've been fighting an aggravating cough. To avoid making a scene with a coughing fit, I popped cough drops and did not sing or speak.

The Lutherans kind of pride themselves on not being emotional about religious matters. Sometimes I view church as a place to just follow along, numbly. I've been steeped in Christianity since childhood. Sometimes, in some distant part of the ocean of my mind, a thought will try to surface concerning some aspect of what I've been taught......a thought like "Do you really feel that teaching rings true? Does it resonate as truth?". Usually, I just have to push the thought right back into the ocean. To do otherwise is to allow faulty human reason to rule, right? Here's an example: Pastors seem to think that we are all constantly burdened by overwhelming guilt over our sins. But, if we haven't committed heinous sins like murder or adultery, in my view, it seems a struggle to conjure up the weight of guilt all the time. And Lutheran teachings never seem to allow us to reach the point described in II Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" We're always spinning our wheels in the "old" weight and guilt. But, St.Paul says "the old has gone" what does that mean, anyway? Should I ask my pastor? He would reach for the Book of Concord, and then I would be out the door. I'll just keep my mouth shut.....even if I don't have a cough.

Obviously, I'm not a very good Lutheran. I follow the things I'm supposed to do-----be present for the Word to be put in my ears and in my mouth-----but my heart is simply not entirely Lutheran.

As always on Good Friday, the service atmosphere was very solemn. There were no flowers anywhere. The cross on the altar was covered with a black cloth, and Pastor wore a plain black robe. The congregation was silent on the way into the sanctuary and on the way out. That was fine with me......I could do that every Sunday. No yak, yak, are you.....oh,, smile, smile.

Now, for the rest of the day, it will feel like Sunday, after having attended church this morning. My son turned on the TV after church.....I think he was expecting to find a sports broadcast on, instead of weekday soap operas. For lunch I fixed pancakes and a vegetable omelet. Everyone around this house just loves pancakes......I hear more "Thanks, Mom, that was good!" after a pancake meal than any other!

Blessings to all on this Holy Day!

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