It was a powerful night for those gathered at the little white church to do something different for Maundy Thursday. They gathered in the fellowship hall, better known as Mackenzie Chapel, named so after the man whose grim looking picture, hanging on its walls, had caused many a child to ask, “Pastor Donna, are his eyes following us?”
Of course, they were teasing me claiming that the famous friendly ghost that haunted the school came down the street for an occasional visit to the church. There was plenty of hallowed ground in the little village with a Revolutionary War cemetery greeting visitors upon their arrival as well as stories of which old house was indeed an underground railroad stop.
But on this holy night an intimate group gathered in the chapel for something different: a quiet candlelight supper to recall the Passover meal Jesus celebrated with his disciples on the night of his betrayal and arrest.
It was powerful as we gathered and got to better understand the symbolism in the items on the traditional Seder plate and how Jesus was about to add a layer of new meaning to what was with what was about to be.
The bitter herbs of tears shed long ago in Egypt foreshadowing the bitter tears that would be shed at the foot of the cross. The lamb sacrificed for the meal foreshadowing THE lamb to be slaughtered. The last cup of Passover wine now the cup of the new covenant poured out in Jesus’ blood—there was a strong sense of the Spirit moving among those at the table who came seeking deeper meaning and deeper understanding. We were not just on hallowed ground. We were standing on holy ground. Together. And there were angles all around.
As was recorded in scripture, we then, too, sang a hymn after supper and made our way outdoors. The sweet smell of a spring night was strong. The daffodils and hyacinths from Easters past, planted by the white picket fence of the church’s parking lot, were in full bloom. A bird fluttered by and in the silence of the circle we made a little girl couldn’t contain her excitement any longer.
“Mommy, listen to the peepers!”
The beauty of God’s creation was all around us and yet we were outside to remember the agony of Jesus who, in night air similar to ours, prayed to his Father to take this cup of suffering away.
With the chorus of peepers in the background, I read the words I knew those in the circle have whispered or pleaded or cried out many times before. I read the words that were at times in my life all too familiar.
“Father, please let this cup of suffering pass. But not according to my will, but your will be done.”
The words wafted into the air. We closed in prayer. The stars appeared.
I will always remember that night for those gathered at the little white church because it was a night in which they dared to do something different in terms of worshipping God. To do something different not to attract more people, but do something different that was born out of the desire to have a deeper and quieter prayer experience on such a holy night.
It was a powerful night.
But how many powerful nights like that have we missed all because we went along with the crowd and didn’t listen to how our Spirits needed to be fed?
I have come realize more and more the worse thing we can do individually or collectively is squash the Spirit of God by not listening to what the Spirit is calling us to do—even if it means doing something different, even for just this one time.
And so as I stare at today’s wooden cross in a time of prayer on this Good Friday, I remember one powerful night at the little white church. I remember a little girl’s excitement at the peepers. I remember the incredible sense that we were together standing in the presence of the Holy One. I remember our prayers. But most of all I remember the divine silence.
I look at the cross of Good Friday and I remember my need to be true to God and be who God is asking me to be. I realize, too, for God to truly work through me, I need to do something very important.
I need to nail to the cross my fears and doubts and insecurities. I need to leave behind that little voice that says, “You can’t do…” this or that.
For isn’t the cross our reminder of ALL God CAN do?
On this Good Friday I remember one powerful night at the little white church that changed me, shaped me and inspired me.
It is now time for me to once again be changed, shaped and inspired. It’s time to let go of the darkness that led to goodness being nailed to a cross. It’s time to be led by God’s Spirit into a new day filled with light and love.
Good Friday Reminder: Until the joy of Easter morning comes, be still and know that God, even in darkness, is still God.