I am a Pastor at a Lutheran church in Florida. Every year we have a tenebrae service on Good Friday. We incorporate some contemplative and somber elements into the service to reflect on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We end the service with a silent video clip from an edited black and white version of "Passion of the Christ" while someone sings "Jesus Paid it All" quietly in the background. Then we walk out of the sanctuary in darkness and silence.
Last year, after the service was over I asked an 8 year old girl what she thought of it. She said, "All murder and violence and no donuts." Reflecting back on the service I understand what she meant. The service was lacking the usually celebratory tone that the Sunday morning services offer, and yes, it was lacking donuts.
The word tenebrae actually means darkness. It seems strange that "Good" Friday would be full of darkness.
In order to come to a greater appreciation for the passion of Christ, we have to take a graphic look at the price He paid for us. Things looked pretty bleak for the disciples after the sun went down the day Jesus died. I can only imagine that what they were feeling at the time was probubly pretty dark, too -- hopelessness, despair, and shame.
Participating in the darkness, I think, lets us remember the despair we would all feel without the cross. Our sin would separate us from God for eternity without it, without Jesus. Fully experiencing the darkness without Jesus on Good Friday lets us fully experience the joy of the resurrection on Sunday. When we have a greater appreciation for the cross, worship is a celebration every Sunday, all year long, and even donuts become part of the joy we have in Christ.
Time magazine ran an article recently titled “14 Ways to Squeeze More Joy Out of Every Day." The author, Ellen Seidman, began: "Sometime this morning, during your shower or at work, you probably did a mental run-through of your day. You decided when you’d tackle various tasks and errands. Perhaps you vowed to hit the gym at lunchtime. Maybe you plotted to get out of something (apologies, PTA meeting). The one thing you forgot to plan for: happiness.”
The author then gives a list of 14 ways to be happy suggested by Barbara Fredrickson, a social psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The list, among other things, includes the following suggestions about how to be happy: Make happiness your goal, know what makes you happy, prioritize it, think happy thoughts, and make Sunday future-fun day (make plans for the next weekend).
A man, living in the third century, was dying when he wrote these last words to a friend: "It's a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. They are truly a joyful people. These people are the Christians ... and I am one of them" (Riding the Joy Train by Wanda Jo Pence, p.18).
We who are Christians, followers of Christ, have learned a great secret: Jesus is the reason for the joy of joys. His presence in our life and the promise of eternal life in heaven with Him brings a transcendent joy to any set of circumstances.
If you want to squeeze more joy out of everyday life, fit more of Jesus into it!
Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11).
Chloe Bryan with MASHABLE.COM reports:
Jackson, Mississippi resident Eddie Prosser was tired of the pothole that had graced his neighborhood for a year, unfixed. So he got the city's attention — by throwing the pothole a birthday party.
The delightful display features a festive birthday balloon as well as a giant birthday card reading "Happy birthday, Pothole!" in beautiful script.
To drive the point home, the sign also says "I've been here for over a year!"
Prosser told WJTV News that although the sign was intended as a joke, he really was frustrated with the city's lack of action.
Finally, after local news outlets reported on the pothole party, the city fixed it.
Celebrating a pothole is a strange way to address the problem, but in the case of Eddie Prosser, it was the change of attitude that finally worked.
Is it time for a change of attitude toward the potholes in your life? Instead of sitting around resenting your troubles, maybe it’s time to take a different tactic. The Bible encourages us to follow Mr. Prosser's example when it says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2, ESV).
Maybe it's time to stop griping, and throw a party instead.