a really good friday
six families from knoxville, tennessee decided to do something different for spring break this year. a group of people that have spent a lot of time sitting on bleachers at baseball games watching their 10 year old sons play sports found their way to santiago, dominican republic, this past week. this particular week in the dominican is called "semana santa (holy week)" and everyone takes off for the countryside, rivers and beaches. at church last sunday morning down in "the hole", pastor felix abreu spoke about the week before Jesus's death on the cross. the people of israel awaited a mighty king who would more than likely be riding a stallion with a great army surrounding him. instead, Jesus requested a donkey and down the mountain he rode. he knew the journey ahead and what awaited him at the cross...and he still came with joy.
on "good friday", this group of boys (and 2 girls) and their parents decided to take a journey themselves. after a week of putting on a baseball clinic for 8-12 year old boys from the hole, playing games and teaching bible stories to about 30 girls, we decided to take friday morning and reflect on the journey that jesus took to the cross. for me, this is usually a somber day as i attempt to imagine the emotions surrounding the people who followed Jesus as they watched him carry his cross with great pain and abuse. but this good friday, a new perspective graced me with it's presence. as the group set out on a 1 kilometer hike through rocks, water and mud, i found myself giddy with a permanant smile on my face because i knew what awaited us at the end of our journey.
although God had to have felt great sorrow watching his son go to the cross, i would imagine he also had great peace about him knowing what was to come. even in the beginning, in genesis 3:15, God is speaking to the serpent in the garden of eden and he says, "and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heal." God knew that Jesus was going to be nailed to the cross and that it would be a horrific death, but he also knew that ultimate victory would come 3 days later when Jesus would be resurrected and bring eternal life to all that believe. this year, good friday all of the sudden brought a peace and a joy because someone this week reminded me that although friday may be really difficult, sunday is just around the corner.
four of the boys from the group decided to get baptized on good friday. after working our way through the rocks, water and mud, we arrived at a beautiful waterfall and fresh spring water. we worshipped with great music and different individuals shared about what the cross means to them. then, after watching the boys be emersed in water and come up with smiles on their faces, it was then that we truly celebrated the cross and the resurrection. Four young boys publicly professed their faith in Jesus Christ and their peers and parents commited to continue this journey with them as they pursue a life with their Creator.
good friday was no longer somber as these baptisms reminded me of the most important part of the last week of the life of Jesus. . . sunday, the resurrection. this past friday, was a really good friday!