good friday

We hope the time you spend here will be a meaningful reflection on the death of Jesus and will better prepare you for your celebration of Easter.

Tune your vehicle’s radio to 96.5FM for music and readings throughout the day. 

There is no order of service. This is your time to use in whatever ways you find meaningful.
Stay for as long as you want and use the time for prayer, Scripture reading, sitting silently, journaling, drawing, reading the reflections, or another activity that will help you reflect on the One who died on the cross.

Due to social distancing guidelines, please stay in your vehicle.  

about the readings

The reflections below focus on Jesus’ defeat of the powers of evil through his death on the cross.

The long conflict between humanity and the powers of evil predicted in Genesis 3 comes to fulfillment in Jesus’ death. As we come to the cross today, the following reflections, prayers, Scriptures and poems guide us to appreciate Jesus’ victory over humanity’s enemies (sin death, evil, and Satan) on our behalf.

prayer

Dear God,

We remember today the pain and suffering of the cross, and all that Jesus was willing to endure, so we could be set free. He paid the price, such a great sacrifice, to offer us the gift of eternal life.

Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the cost of it all. Forgive us for being too busy or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what you freely gave, what you have done for us.

Thank you, Lord, that by your wounds we are healed. Thank you that, because of your huge sacrifice, we can live free. Thank you that sin and death have been conquered, and that your power is everlasting.

Thank you that we can say with great hope, “It is finished…” for we know what’s still to come. And death has lost its sting. We praise you for you are making all things new.

Amen.

Debbie McDaniel
www.debbiemcdaniel.com

reflective reading

In the middle of an unordered world, Yahweh took the materials he had made, fashioned them, and brought order to a small part of the Earth. In this ordered space (the Garden of Eden), Yahweh took up residence to live with humans and co-rule with them over his creation.

Together Yahweh and humans would work to expand the garden bringing order to the rest of the Earth. But something went terribly wrong.

Perhaps in an excursion outside the garden to accomplish their task of expanding the garden, Adam and Eve encountered a serpent. The serpent convinced the human pair to turn against their God and be their own gods. Adam and Eve sided with the serpent against Yahweh.

Due to their rebellion, Yahweh banished humans from his presence and the garden to the outside world of disorder and chaos. Before their banishment, Yahweh pronounced the consequences of their rebellion. One part of those consequences involved the serpent.

Addressing the serpent, Yahweh announces:
I will put contempt
between you and the woman,
between your offspring and hers.
They will strike your head,
but you will strike at their heels. (Genesis 3:15, CEB)

The Common English Bible comes the closest to getting the meaning of Yahweh’s announcement. Too often, translations and our preconceived ideas lead us to believe the strike against the serpent is fatal while the strike against the heel of the woman’s offspring, while harmful, is not fatal. However, both are fatal!

The same Hebrew word is used for both the human’s strike against the serpent and the serpent’s strike against the human. As a crushed head kills a serpent, so the bite on the heel by a venomous serpent kills a human.

Also, translations and our historical perspective can lead us to think that the offspring of the woman refers to one person, namely Jesus. But the woman’s offspring should be understood as plural and a reference to all humanity. The idea, then, is this: the two sides who teamed up against Yahweh will now be in a perpetual struggle against each other. The offspring of the woman (humans) and the offspring of the serpent (forces of evil) will exchange potentially fatal blows.

The fascinating bit about Yahweh’s pronouncement is what it does not say. We are not told who, if anyone, will be the victor. Will one triumph? If so, who? It appears as if both sides end up losing, but things aren’t always as they appear.

So, beginning with Cain and continuing throughout history, the conflict between the serpent’s offspring and the woman’s offspring has raged. The forces of evil have delivered potentially fatal blows to humans in order to destroy them and Yahweh’s plans to redeem them back to himself. At times, humans have dealt potentially fatal blows to the evil one by resisting evil and trying to follow Yahweh and his plans for them. Back and forth the struggle continued until it reached a climax with the high stakes conflict between the serpent and the second Adam, the true and perfect offspring of the woman.

The New Testament presents Jesus as the second Adam, the one who, like the first Adam, represents all humanity (Romans 5:12-21). The New Testament authors also present Jesus as the human par excellence, the one who perfectly images God (2 Corinthians 3:18-4:6; Colossians 1:15; 3:5-11). As the true and perfect representative of the human race, His mission was to defeat the forces of evil, redeem humans back to a relationship with Yahweh, and show them how to live as humans.

Jesus’ miraculous conception set in motion a life and death showdown between the woman’s offspring and the serpent and His offspring. The serpent would not back down. From Jesus’ birth to his death, the serpent unleashed his full arsenal to strike the heel of and eliminate his mortal enemy—the perfect offspring of the woman.

The birth of Jesus represented a potentially fatal blow to the serpent. A new king, bringing God’s kingdom, threatened the power and authority of the kingdom of darkness which had held power for so long. King Jesus aggressively confronted the serpent and his offspring. His miracles attacked them head on. Casting out demons, healing the sick and disabled, and raising the dead signified the demise of the evil forces and their power. Jesus’ calming of the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee and walking on its turbulent waters indicated His unquestioned authority over the powers of evil. To have such control over the sea where, as the Hebrew people believed, evil powers originated and resided, was to control those forces.

If something was not done about this perfect offspring of the woman sent by God as humanity’s representative to redeem fallen humans, the serpent and his offspring would face destruction.

The serpent and his offspring would not relinquish their grip over humanity without a fight. From Jesus’ birth they too were on the attack. Herod the Great’s slaughter of male babies in Bethlehem sought to eliminate Jesus and the hope of all humanity. The evil one’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness threatened to destroy Jesus and the mission the Father had given Him. The forces of evil had willing accomplices in the religious leaders who tried on several occasions to kill Jesus (John 5:16-18; 7:1; 8:27; 10:45-57). Finally, a glimmer of hope for the serpent came from one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas. His betrayal of Jesus into the hands of the Jewish leaders, and ultimately the hands of the Romans led to the ultimate winner-take-all confrontation between humanity and evil—the offspring of the serpent and the offspring of the woman.

As Jesus hung on the cross and died that Friday before Passover, the serpent appeared victorious. The fatal blow was struck against humanity’s representative and so all humanity itself.

However, things are not always as they appear. In a twist no one could imagine, Jesus’ death at the hands of the evil powers dealt a mortal blow to the serpent and his offspring. Consider and reflect on these Scriptures.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:9-12, NIV)

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15, NIV)

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15, NIV)

In His death, Jesus crushed the head of the serpent. The pronouncement of Genesis 3:15 was now fulfilled. The serpent struck the heel of the woman’s offspring and, in turn, the woman’s offspring struck the head of the serpent. Both blows were fatal.

But what’s the point? No one wins. We have nothing more than a tragic, meaningless stalemate. Or, is it much worse than that? Even in death, has the serpent won? Not only is the second Adam dead, but humanity now appears to have no hope of redemption and a restored relationship with Yahweh.

If the perfect human, chosen by God to represent all of humanity, could not conquer the serpent, what human could? But, once again, things are not always as they appear. Humanity, through its representative, Jesus, couldn’t be the victor after all, could it? Easter will unveil the answer. And so we wait…

“battlefield”

In the beginning, the battle line was drawn
When rebels stole what God had disallowed.
The evil one had used them as his pawn,
Pretending he could elevate the proud.
Then God in mercy banished them from Paradise
And charged an angel with a flaming sword
To guard them from the tree that would entice.
The tree of life could not be their reward.
Not life but death was due for their offense,
Yet as the battle raged throughout the years
Kinsman-redeemers came to their defense.
In expectation of the One who ends all fears.
Though dying on a tree, He won the day,
Pierced through by sword of Roman soldier rude.
And three days in the silent tomb He lay,
Till with His rising all things were renewed.
This time the Father charged the angel guard
To speak His peace to those who love the Son,
Soldiers of Christ armed with the Spirit’s Sword,
The Living Word who has the conquest won.
Now marching on to songs of victory
His army keeps the disciplines of war
Until all prisoners have been set free
And God is glorified on every shore.

Copyright © 2013 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

O most merciful Father, who of your tender compassion towards us guilty sinners gave your one and only Son to be an offering for our sins; grant us grace we humbly ask you, that, being united unto him by your Spirit, and made partakers of his sufferings and his death, we may crucify the corrupt inclinations of the flesh, die daily unto the world, and lead holy and unblameable lives.

Clinging onto his cross in all the temptations of life, may we hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, and finally attain unto the resurrection of the just; through the merits of this same once crucified but now risen and exalted Savior. Amen.

– Adapted from the Church of Scotland’s liturgy book, A Book of Common Order

O most merciful Father, who of your tender compassion towards us guilty sinners gave your one and only Son to be an offering for our sins; grant us grace we humbly ask you, that, being united unto him by your Spirit, and made partakers of his sufferings and his death, we may crucify the corrupt inclinations of the flesh, die daily unto the world, and lead holy and unblameable lives.

Clinging onto his cross in all the temptations of life, may we hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, and finally attain unto the resurrection of the just; through the merits of this same once crucified but now risen and exalted Savior. Amen.

– Adapted from the Church of Scotland’s liturgy book, A Book of Common Order

If you do not have a church home, we invite you to join us online for our Easter celebration this weekend.

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