As I prepare for Palm Sunday, I feel moved to touch on a subject I feel VERY strongly about. Good Friday. I love Good Friday and for some reason have always had a special reverence and respect for it. I’m not really sure why–I just do. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite high school memories is of a certain Good Friday. On that day, a few too many years ago, a friend and I decided to take a mid-day drive through the very small community where we grew up. We were out of school that day (as everyone should be) so we decided to ride around to look at the dogwood blossoms. Yes, that’s exactly what we were doing…..looking at dogwood blossoms…..I’m sure it was something like that…… As we approached the main thoroughfare of town–where our lovely church crowns the street–we noticed that the cross was not out in front as it should have been. We went into panic mode. Somehow, whomever was supposed to put it up had forgotten to do so. How could such a thing happen? We decided it was up to us to save the day so we put our plan into action. Unfortunately the storage building out back was locked and nobody seemed to have a key for the padlock. Not to worry! We found a crowbar and used it to pop the lock, grabbed the cross and ran to the front lawn. We spent about another 20 minutes looking for the hole in the ground where is goes. It was supposed to be marked by a brick but the grass was high and it took forever to find it. I’m fairly certain we uttered a few words not at all worthy of the church yard during our search but we were on a mission! Finally, we found the brick, dug it up and hoisted the cross upright. We ran in the church (we had a key for that, no break in was necessary) and rifled through the closets for the black drape. It was nowhere to be found. Never fear! We had a plan. We drove back to my house and ripped apart the closets looking for a long black cloth. There had to be some black fabric SOMEWHERE! Black shroud in hand, we headed back to the church. We ran back up to the cross where she sat on my shoulders to reach high enough and used safety pins to drape my Mother’s long black skirt around the cross. It gave a whole new meaning to the classic hymn “Lift High The Cross”.Mission accomplished, crisis averted.
In the spirit of full disclosure I have to be honest and tell you that I’m pretty sure this was also the year we rolled the yard at the parsonage on the night before Easter. Look–we were teenagers and nobody’s perfect. Plus, I think we used colored toilet paper (remember that?!) so it looked very festive and “Easter-y”.
Okay, on with the show. Back in 2009, I typed a very short email about Good Friday and sent it to a few close friends. I wasn’t trying to make any sort of grand statement. I wasn’t trying to get something passed around or forwarded around the globe. (For the record, any email I receive with a subject line starting “Fwd. Fwd. Fwd.” goes directly to the trash.) I was just sharing my thoughts with like-minded friends. I now feel led to share those thoughts again, so I have taken that old email and tweaked it a bit to be relevant today–in 2016. I am sharing it here and I hope that it will at the very least cause you to stop and think–not only about Good Friday but about each and every day The Good Lord sees fit to grant you.
Easter Sunday, the greatest Holy Day in the Christian calendar, celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As I am sure you know, Good Friday commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus and His death at Golgotha.
When I was growing up, and for several years after I had children of my own, there was no school on Good Friday. Perhaps that is still true for you but on March 25th, 2016, where I live, school is in session. School–on Good Friday. What a shame. We are given time away from school for Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Labor Day, President’s Day, the list goes on. While I understand and respect the importance of those holidays, I in no way equate them with any type of “Holy Day”.
You should know that I am an avid supporter of my local school system and feel very blessed to be able to send my daughter to such an amazing school. There’s a reason we call it the “Public-Private School”–it’s wonderful. However, this scheduling conflict is where I must take issue. Please rest assured that I don’t blame this on teachers or administrators or board members. Oh no– I blame it on us. All of us. You, me, the folks down the street–we all share the blame. We have all stood silently by and allowed this to happen. Nobody says a word when the soccer or softball tournament; baseball game; cheerleading competition or lacrosse practice falls on a Sunday. We have allowed prayer to be taken from our schools and our sporting events. All the while we just stand around and say “Wow-that’s so awful. I wish we could do something about that.”. But nobody ever actually does anything. Why should we be surprised when the recognition of another Holy Day is done away with? I hate to call on Elvis here but, we need a little less conversation and a lot more action! We ALL bear the blame for ending up in school on Good Friday. Every last one of us.
One year, I caved and sent my children to school. Somebody had a test and somebody was getting an award or it was picture day or something…… who can even remember what the reasons were? I surely don’t know. What I do know is that I have felt badly about it ever since. Therefore–this year, I will not send my daughter to school on Good Friday. (The one who’s in college has to make his own decision this time around.) I’m renewing my commitment to keep that day Holy. It’s a small thing I grant you, but it is done with great love. I don’t want you to think that I’m asking you to keep your children home. I’m not. I’m not asking you to pull your children out of sports that meet on the weekends. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty if you can’t keep your children home that day–or if you can’t be away from work. I’m not asking you to call the school to complain–nothing like that! I am simply asking you to stop and think about the importance of that day. Remember, without Good Friday–there is no Easter Sunday.
Think about all that has been given to you–by God. Think about how you are returning the favor. Not just on Good Friday but on every day of the week. What are you doing to show thankfulness and respect? Perhaps if you don’t have school on Good Friday (or if you decide not to send your children) you will think about what a difference you could make in someone’s life that day! Find a charity that needs assistance and volunteer to help out on that day. Clean out your closets and take things to the homeless shelter. (Nice things–nobody want’s your old underwear and your 1987 Hard Rock Cafe shirt.) Bake some cupcakes and drop them off at the nursing home. Buy an extra bag of groceries and take it to a local food bank. Drop off an Easter Lilly at a neighbor’s house. Write thank you notes to your pastor and the staff at your church. You don’t have to look far to see someone that would benefit from even the smallest act of kindness. And for the record–those things can be done on ANY day–even AFTER school–you don’t have to wait for a special occasion!
Also, while you’re at it, think about how you could change things if you said “no” to Sunday sports that started before noon. If enough folks did it–you would see a change; I guarantee.
Finally, to be clear, this message is not about finding a reason to skip school or stay home from work. This is not about making a statement and it is most certainly not about “me”! This is about paying the proper respect to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ–every single day of the week.
I hope that you and your family have a most wonderful, happy and blessed Easter!
Well, there you have it. The updated version of the Good Friday email that did not go around the world. That’s fine with me. I only want to remind myself to be grateful for the blessings God has so greatly given to us all and–as I said–I’m just sharing thoughts with like-minded friends.
In my opinion, folks who are grateful are usually great folks.