Friday, April 14, 2006

April Showers ~ Good Friday

April Showers Countdown...
Start :|: \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ x x x x :|: Finish
Six more days; four more blue worshipping people. Since last post, we completed a second wedding, another Titus 2 Women's Meeting, our bi-annual Week of Prayer, and our Good Friday Service. This is the first Good Friday service we've done in at least 10 years.

Covenant Life is a celebratory church. We are casual, laughter-lovers who, though we take the worship of Jesus Christ seriously, are rarely somber in our approach to God. We love to revel in the grace of God through our Savior Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we knew we were in for an uphill battle as we began to plan a healthily sober Good Friday service which focused on the suffering and the death of Christ. How do we encourage people NOT to fellowship as they come in but rather to meditate on the cross of Christ? How do we sing songs, which is normally a loud and joyful experience for us, in a way that causes people to recognize the intense agony that the Son of God underwent for our souls? How do we not move on too quickly from the cross and yet clearly offer the hope held out to us in the resurrection of our Savior?

Well, we tried a few things. Some things worked. And some could have been better. What do you think about these ideas?

Entry notes: worked ~ While people were still in the parking lot, they received a notecard asking them to enter the auditorium quietly and meditatively, considering the truth of the cross and the God of the cross they were about to hear from. People were actually quiet when they walked in and sat down. I hope that also means they were thinking about the death of our Lord.

Video Meditation: could have been better ~ We played a video for the last ten minutes before the service began. The video was Scriptures to help people to mediate on the cross over a video background. The idea definitely could have worked, and did to some degree. The backgrounds were so dynamic that they could have distracted from the words. And the video was less than 10 minutes long. We should have played it twice since some people started arriving early.

Singing to the Lord: worked ~ Our singles band played for this meeting, which I initially thought might not support the sober mood. However, they did a great job keeping the intensity up but the tone serious. They didn't overplay. The song choice was perfect for the evening.

The only thing that could have been better was the start of the meeting. Normally most everyone is standing and talking at the beginning of a service, and we just jump right into singing together. Bowever, because everyone was seated when they came in, the congregation wasn't sure whether they were supposed to stand and sing in the first couple songs. I think some of them may have been confused and confusion always has the potential of distraction.

Dramatic Elements: worked ~ After the second song, we did a series of "drama" elements... We started with a reading of Luke's passage on the crucifixion. After that the room went dark, the screen turned red, and we played an audio track of hammer strikes. Then an animated cross came up on the screen with the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross, one at a time. This seemed to very effective.

The Message: worked ~ Eric Simmons preached a powerful sermon from the perspective of the criminals and onlookers of the crucifixion. I didn't get to hear it all, but he was on point. I can't wait to listen to it in full!

The Exit: could have been better ~ The last thing that people were supposed to experience was in our main lobby. As people exited the auditorium, a floor-to-ceiling screen with a sunrise greeted them. The text over the sunrise pointed to the resurrection. "Hope is Coming" was one of the phrases. The video and screen looked great.

Unfortunately, people piled up in front of the screen after a few minutes, so most people who left later couldn't see what the words said. We should have put the words on the top of the video rather than the bottom. Also, the video was supposed to be a ray of hope in a more dark moment. Instead, the end of the sermon and the songs we sang just before exiting were very hope-filled. That was great, but it minimized the impact of the video.

If you attended our service, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. How did the Lord meet you? What didn't serve you? If you didn't attend Covenant Life, what did you do for Good Friday? How did the Lord meet you?

Just one more day until the resurrection of our Savior!
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