A few years ago a Brazilian pastor in one of our Wesleyan churches here in Manaus began to hold Good Friday service. Why was this so unusual? Evangelical churches usually do not hold such services since it is viewed as a Roman Catholic tradition. Yesterday we attended for the first time.
The cloudy, gloomy day helped prepare our hearts to think about those last hours on Calvary. The church was crowded and beautifully decorated for the occasion. A table gorgeously ornamented with gold candlesticks, vases and adorned with large crystal goblets of grape juice, honey and milk provided an expectation that something significant was about to take place. For me every nuance of the service was new. I came away with a fresh sense of God’s love for me a sinner.
The pastor gave me much to ponder. He asked us how many sins we thought we had committed in our life time. Not a happy thought. Then he asked us how many sins it takes for us to be separated from God. Just one. So Christ came to die for our sins, yes, but just one was enough for him to go all the way to Calvary.
After spending those precious couple hours with fellow believers, raising our voices together in song, meditating on the Word, participating in choral readings, sharing the bread and grape juice, I felt glad to be apart of this new tradition.
This church has also begun to hold a Sunrise service which begins at 5:30 a.m., which we will try to get to in the morning! How significant to gather and experience the wonder of seeing the brilliant light pierce through the dark of night and perceive anew the spiritual reality of worshipping a risen Lord who broke the reign of the evil one. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed.