When Jacob was little, like maybe around 7 or 8, he told us that the Good Friday service was his favorite out of all the services of the year. Really? Not Christmas or Easter? Nope. Good Friday. Why? we wondered. He liked the visual element of it–the gradual darkening of the church as each of the seven candles is extinguished. And he especially liked the drama at the end with the “grave” being “shut,” when the pastor slams a book shut to signify the closing of the tomb.
Now, I’m not sure which service he’d identify as a favorite, but I can see why this would appeal to a child. Children get antsy at church because there’s not too much going on. I mean, there’s a pastor, there’s the organist, maybe some special music that can be interesting to watch (especially if it’s the handbells that play!). We adorn our churches with stained glass and banners, but even so, these are static images–much different from the interactive gizmos of today.
Good Friday services, like the movie, The Passion of the Christ, give us perspective. We place ourselves at the foot of the cross, breathing repentant prayers, and rejoicing in the forgiveness and grace of God. It’s not a sad day. It’s somber, but it’s more awe-filled than sad. I am amazed that God would stoop so low, to raise me up, to trade places with me and forgive my shortcomings.
And that is worth celebrating.
Bean or Lentil Soup
I’ll admit it–that title sounds a bit odd. I mean, how do you commemorate Good Friday with food? However, unless you choose to fast, it’s fairly certain that you’re eating on Good Friday. So why not make it somehow fitting with the day?
Here’s the great thing about bean soup: it’s cheap. It’s also healthy. And if you do it right, it can be quite tasty. But it’s also restrained. We don’t have the exuberant luxury of Easter’s lamb and gravy, lamb butter, desserts, and cocktails. We restrain our feasting with a simple but filling soup so the preacher has the strength to get through the service!
I try to start with dried beans because a) they’re cheap; b) they don’t have the sodium content that some canned beans do; and c) with some planning, it’s not difficult to re-hydrate them yourself. The other great thing about dried beans is they keep in the cupboard forever. I pulled out a batch that I’d previously mixed up to make this soup and soaked them, starting on Thursday morning. I used the same pan for soaking and cooking. First, I rinsed the beans, and then covered them with water to sit on the stovetop for at least 24 hours.
After about a day, the beans are ready to become part of the soup. I dumped off the old water, and started with fresh to again cover the beans. To that, I added chicken bouillon (beef would work too), diced carrots, onion, and celery. Usually at this point, I’d add polish sausage (the turkey ones are great). Throw in some water and seasonings, and you’ve got a great soup. Serve with some crusty bread, and then head out to your local congregation for a Good Friday Tenebrae service, like we have at Redeemer at 7 p.m. See you there!