Friday, April 6, 2007

Welcome to Canada: take the day off & praise the Lord

Several years ago one of our older girls asked "why is it that some people call the Friday before Easter, "Good Friday" when we all know that's the day Jesus died?" Her question was legit and her logic was too. I didn't have an answer for her, since in my current (at that time) Christian background was only a couple of years and my (former) Christian background growing up, we never called it that. It prompted me to wonder why.

So I went to the library to find out why. "The library" of course, being the handy-dandy search engines on the 'net. From all I could gather, "Good Friday" is more of a RC tradition than anything else, and it's believed by more than a few that originally it was called God's Friday, and just changed over the centuries.

Growing up, I never called this day Good Friday, and I still don't - although most everyone I know, does. It's just one of those things.

In any case, the more I considered how to answer my daughter, my thoughts turned to Scripture and I gave her the only explanation that made any sense to me. As heartbreaking as it was that our Lord had to suffer the way He did, and die the way He did, it was indeed the greatest good that anyone could ever do. On that day so many years ago, by laying down His life for His elect, he paid our sin debt, securing our salvation.

I can't help but consider this passage:

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. (John 15:9-17)

I wonder if it wouldn't be more accurate to call this day Great Friday?

In any event, it's a holiday here in Canada, and everything (more or less) is closed. Being an American, at first it was odd, the idea that things just shut down on Good Friday, because it's not a religious holiday in the states (not federal, anyway, like it is here). It's just one of those cultural differences that I'm still getting accustomed to after 9 years of being here.

Most local area churches have some kind of event planned for today. Services that include Scripture reading or a special musical worship service. You don't have to look far to find a place to go to celebrate Good Friday with other believers in a formal sense, if that's something you'd like to do. Although I'm fairly certain making Good Friday a stat holiday in Canada has its roots in the Roman Catholic tradition, I think it's an awesome thing that the government shuts down for one day, and God's people can take the day off work to spend in worship with one another.

However you and your family spend this Friday, in preparation for Resurrection Sunday, it's certainly a time to reflect on what His death, burial and resurrection accomplished. While many will say that we should be focused on His sacrifice for us 365 days a year (and I agree), I know that for many Christians, especially ones new to the faith, this is a blessed time of year because so many pastors are right this minute, preparing sermons for today and for Sunday that will further edify us and give us cause for deep, personal meditation on what our Lord did for us, on this day.

May we keep that acknowledgment of what He did on this day, front and center for the rest of the year.