It seems a little sacrilegious to say that one of my favorite days of the year is Good Friday, but over the past few years, it appears that it is indeed the truth. For a while back in high school and college, Easter was my favorite holiday. Christmas is great, but it's busy and stressful and in the middle of winter. Easter heralds the coming of spring, and there has always been a certain simplicity about it that I absolutely cherish. Pretty dresses, lots of chocolate, spring flowers, and the absolute best Bible story ever. Sold.
When I was younger, I loved coloring eggs and helping set up for our church's Easter breakfast. I appreciated the solemnity of the Good Friday children's service at our church, complete with a vivid illustration of the pounding of nails into the cross. Easter morning meant waking up at the crack of dawn (seemingly every year the morning after the time change!), but I was rewarded with a gorgeous church service and fantastic breakfast (be it the one I helped set up or one out with my grandma). Usually we had a pretty low key family gathering after that and hoped to have a day nice enough to enjoy some outside time.
My love affair with Good Friday didn't really start until six years ago, when I had my first Good Friday off as a working adult. We almost always had games on Good Friday and Holy Saturday when I worked in sports, and in fact, Craig is on his way back from Calgary as I type. Once I changed jobs, I was ecstatic to discover that I got Good Friday off each year, and I have truly enjoyed that time. That first one, I made a mix CD of Easter-ish songs, then went to church and participated in a "prayer labyrinth", a series of go-at-your-own-pace stations to pray and ponder the events leading up to Christ's death. It was very moving. I believe I also got to participate in our family tradition of prunes and noodles (German thing) for the first time in ages. Ever since, prunes and noodles has been a staple and I love finding other ways to fill the weekend.
Two years ago we had just moved into our house and the weather all weekend was in the 80s. It was like some sort of heavenly utopia. We played outside, took a walk by the river and geocached with my parents, and had the most unsuccessful Easter egg hunt ever. But it was a fantastic weekend. Last year was a good time, too. Easter weekend just has all sorts of fun wrapped up in it, and I was definitely excited to do it again.
We headed up to NT on Thursday night to give ourselves a full day Friday. We went to the outlet to shop for sneakers for both of us, had a little playtime, and he took a good nap while my mom and I headed out for a walk that included a stop at the library, where I was able to find some books I've been hoping to get at our library but never could. We had a very good time at prunes and noodles. Jacob had a blast driving a giant remote control truck off of a ramp with his second cousins. No pictures, unfortunately, but the smile on his face while driving it recklessly was priceless. In the meantime, I was having fun of my own eating fantastic food and spending quality time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
After that we headed off to church. Jacob has been nervous about it for weeks, because he remembered that my parents' church gets dark on Good Friday. They do a tenebrae service, which involves the church getting progressively darker until all the lights are off. He ended up doing fine, thankfully, though the service definitely got me thinking. See, there's also a tradition in this service where everyone gets a strip of red cloth. At one point in the service everyone brings their strip up front and lays it on the cross. When the cross is lifted up afterward, the strips look like blood dripping down, though it's less graphic than that sounds. Very moving, though. This year I felt like Jacob was old enough to do his own, though I ended up having to take advantage of a potty stop during church to explain a bit about sin, hoping that it might give him some concept of what we were doing (and hopefully curtail the constant stream of disobedience we've been dealing with lately in the process). I don't know if he really got it, but he did dutifully walk up and put his strip on the cross and was pretty quiet and captivated for most of the rest of the service. It struck me as we walked up to the altar and back, and particularly as I helped him put his cloth up there, that it was quite the metaphor for being a Christian parent--leading my child to the cross and helping him lay his sin (and whatever else) on it. Deep stuff. I wrote last year about my difficulty explaining Good Friday to Jacob, and here's another take on the same topic, from someone who goes to my parents' church. It's definitely complicated, but I think it's obviously he's already taking it all in, so it's just a matter of time before he starts to get it.
Today has been fun, as well. I took a glorious run outside, and Jacob had a blast playing various sports. It's not a particularly warm day, but the sun has made it perfectly lovely. Now we're just awaiting Craig's arrival from his roadtrip and looking forward to a lovely day tomorrow with his family. Now if only there wasn't a horrific work week waiting for me on Monday...