Good Friday service surprises and inspires

Blake Dahlin

As the soft and poignant notes of “Jesus Paid It All” echoed through the vaulted ceilings of First Free Methodist Church, students, faculty, and community members paused to reflect on the suffering and death of Christ. The audience was still and quiet, taking in the moment of reverence. Suddenly, and without warning, a shriek pierced through the building, commanding the attention of all in a moment’s time.

Down the center aisle came five figures. Three were weeping and wailing, shouting with pain and protest. One marched along quietly, and the final moved ahead slowly, carrying a wooden cross, blood streaked across his body.

These were the scenes of the Good Friday service at FFFMC, a collaboration between the Seattle Pacific University Office of University Ministries and FFMC.

Prior to this commanding performance of the crucifiction of Jesus Christ, the Rev. Kelsey Rorem took to the pulpit for a call to worship.

“We would much rather look to a risen savior, as opposed to one who was betrayed, one who suffered on our behalf, on behalf of the world,” said Rorem, “And yet, I wonder if a truly faithful Easter morning might actually depend on taking the time to sit in this discomfort.”

The portion of the service in which the drama of the crucifixion was put to the stage was entitled, “A Word from the Eyewitnesses.”

The voices of Mary Magdalene (played by Emily Frier), Mary the Mother of Jesus (played by Yarro Lanphear Ramirez), and Mary the Wife of Clopas (played by Delaney Palmer), carried the drama forward, placing into sharp relief the pain and bewilderment of the events at Calvary.

Following the conclusion of the drama, the Rev. Matt Poole took to the pulpit to address the audience.

When asked, following the conclusion of the service, about the importance of observing Good Friday, Poole spoke of the monumental importance of Good Friday in the Christian faith.

“It grounds us to over 2000 years of Christian belief and faith in Christ.”

Earl Armstrong II, an SPU student, reflected on his experiences at the Good Friday service.
“I was a little bit startled from the performance. I really wasn’t expecting that. But it was really moving, just to put everything into perspective about what took place and how important that is. And how thankful I am to just be where I’m at right now, that we didn’t have to do any of the work,” Armstrong II said.

The service was somber and heavy. Rorem, commenting on the service and its purpose, said, “Good Friday gives space for lament and pain and grief in our faith, and it says that we don’t rush to Easter morning, but we acknowledge the cost of what Jesus paid, and know that we can bring our pain as well to him.”

Following the closing remarks of Poole, the service concluded with a time to leave burdens, symbolized by small pieces of wood, at the foot of a cross on stage.

As the audience exited, the notes of “Jesus Paid It All” echoed through the church once again. This time, however, they were accompanied by the quiet sobs of the three women, who lay on the stage mourning the death of Christ.