My church, like many others, is holding a service on Good Friday. It promises to be a moving service with music, candles, and darkness. One of the songs the choir is doing is a particularly beautiful arrangement of “Were You There.”
I was thinking about this song during choir practice. I think perhaps we’ve heard it so much that we tend to take it for granted. Perhaps the event it describes is just too far removed for us to really appreciate the significance of it.
It struck me this week that it’s not an idle question. The composer isn’t asking, “Were you there when Lisa told that goat story?” or “Were you there when we had that pizza with tuna on it?” No, it’s much more akin to “Were you there at the World Trade Center when the plane hit…and nothing was ever the same again?”
Only– to the people who knew and loved Jesus on that fateful Friday–this was a bigger catastrophe than 9/11. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Were you there when our hope died? When everything we were living for was gone? Were you there? Do you get what happened?”
When I was a little girl, I got that Jesus died on the cross, but I reasoned that since He was God, it probably wasn’t that hard for Him. I was so wrong. It was more difficult and painful than we have the capacity to imagine.
In our march toward Easter Sunday, let’s not forget what Friday was all about. Those around the cross didn’t know Sunday morning and all its resurrection glory was coming. God in heaven DID know – and He still sent thunderstorms and earthquakes and darkness over the whole land when Jesus died. This Easter I’m trying to appreciate the mourning before the morning. I think it’ll make the celebration that much sweeter.