It’s a Good, Good Friday
Last night, I attended Holy Week services at St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church. I still attend every other month or so even though I have moved to Norman and go to Victory Family Church. But I always go back to St. Augustine’s for Holy Week.
Since last year, however, Holy Week is different, for a lot of personal reasons.
One year ago, last Good Friday, I married Tim Burnett on a beach in Crystal Beach, Texas. While the solemnity of Good Friday may seem out of context with a wedding day, we chose it for a few reasons. The biggest one being it’s the day we met.
Tim and I met each other February 3, 2015 through the dating app OKCupid. After talking on the phone for a few weeks, we decided it was time to greet each other in person. A chef, Tim worked days, evening and weekend shifts. I worked the evening shift in downtown Oklahoma City at the time. We decided to meet in the coffee shop of Flint, a restaurant in the Colcord Hotel. This seemed the best idea because it was across the street from The Oklahoman, the newspaper where I worked.
I picked a Friday, not really realizing the significance of the day. But Tim reminded me that he had to park some distance away because a church, Journey, was holding its Good Friday services in Myriad Gardens.
We met on my dinner break, and I thought he was cute and funny. It wasn’t until our next date that I knew there would be a future to this relationship.
Good Friday is the day Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross and died for the sins of millions of believers. Many traditional faiths, such as Catholic ( I am one) think of it as a sad day because of all the pain and suffering Jesus went through. How can this be a happy day, a day for a wedding?
When I first filled out the OKCupid, app, I quoted a Bible verse, making it very clear that I wanted to meet a man who had a “relationship with God.” I had never done that before. I never had stated so plainly that I wanted to meet someone who shared my faith.
On our second date, after viewing the somewhat laughable but entertaining “Furious Seven,” we had iced teas at TGIF across from Quail Springs Mall. We talked a bit more about ourselves and I could detect a man of deep faith, a quiet soul, a servant, and a man who I’d like to get to know.
We didn’t go to church together that Easter, but we would the next year. He proposed in 2016 on my birthday, June 26, at the the coffee shop of Victory Family Church. Another coffee shop! I immediately knew when the wedding day would be. We would get married 10 months later, on Good Friday.
On April 14, 2017, we stood on the sands of Crystal Beach, next to the lapping waves of the Gulf of Mexico. It was sunny and windy and warm. Guests stood under God’s blue skies, and even though it was the day my Lord died, it seemed fitting.
We came together in love and through the love of Jesus. And, we have decided to celebrate our anniversary every Good Friday. So, this year, we are celebrating today, March 30.
As I said, this year’s Holy Week has been different, but a beautiful one. I have two church homes: I go to St. Augustine AND Victory Family Church. And Tim committed to coming to St. Augustine’s with me several times a year.
Palm Sunday: Tim and I enjoyed the celebratory, happy, singing, shouting. Women in Middle-Eastern designed garb with bells danced to drumbeats. A donkey roamed down the center aisle of church. His name is Doc. Doc was a symbol of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, days prior to his execution
Why a donkey? Everything Jesus did was done to fulfill the prophets’ writings in the Old Testament.
“Prior to entering Jerusalem, Christ instructed his disciples to acquire for him a donkey (in Matthew’s Gospel a donkey and a colt).
“First, the prophet Zechariah wrote: “Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zech 9:9)
“The messianic sign was at once perceived by the crowds who hailed Jesus as their king shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mt 21:9) Catholics still shout this Davidic salutation every time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated. It is an acknowledgment that Jesus is the true Davidic Messiah and king.
“Secondly, an ass is integral to the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac, a type of the oblation of the First Born Son as a sign of obedience.
“The third reason is that King Solomon Solomon rode to his messianic coronation on a mule that had once belonged to David (1 Kgs 1:33–44).
“Fourth, King Jehu rode into Samaria (a kind of false Jerusalem) over the garments of his adherents in order to destroy the temple of the false god Baal (2 Kgs 9:11–10:28). One of the first things Christ does upon entering Jerusalem is bring judgment to the Temple which has become a den of thieves. The typology in this account is rather startling as 2 Kgs chapter nine contains strong messianic language. Like King Jehu, Christ the King comes as a judge over ceremonial regulations.”
Maundy Thursday: My solo passage back in time to Passover. Foods of the time were featured. We had a foot-washing service. Everything spotlighted the Lord as servant. Father Joseph Caldwell Alsay explained the meaning of Maundy and linked it to Latin, meaning “mandate” as in a mandate to love one another. There was beautiful singing and a powerful message.
I stayed after to “keep watch” with Jesus, a tradition at St. Augustine’s. Jesus asked the apostles to stay awake and pray that fateful night. Parishioners sign up to do just that.
“Will you not stay awake one hour with me?”
But, like everything else, things have changed. When I worked nights, I would come to the church at midnight after my shift ended. This year, I got the 9:30 p.m. slot. It felt, well, different. At midnight, everyone else would be gone, except Father Joe. This year, a dozen or so people stayed to keep watch.
Good Friday: Tim and I will spend this evening together as it should be, knowing that even though the stone has sealed the tomb …
Easter Sunday is coming.