Although Catholics and Protestants in the past have followed somewhat different forms, in both camps the observances have been such as to cause people to ask, “Then why do we call this Friday ‘good’?” Emphasis has been on the seemingly senseless suffering of Jesus rather than on the purposeful humiliation of God through which redemption comes. In other words, we have failed once again to read the sacred story backward. Friday has been observed as if Sunday had never come.
Good Friday can and should proclaim divine purpose as paramount. Indeed, the term “Good Friday” may be a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday.”
This day is good precisely because God was in control at Calvary. The crucifixion of Jesus was not some bad deal that God had to try to make the best of; it was a working out of divine intention with a view to the salvation of an otherwise doomed creation.
—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 96
Before there was a command to love God, there was the revelation, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” There is no truth, no validity in our worship if the one we worship is not the true and living Creator and Redeemer.
—Garry D. Nation, “The Essentials of Worship: Toward a Biblical Theology of Worship,” Journal of the American Academy of Ministry 5.3 & 4 (Winter-Spring 1997): 6-7
Thanksgiving is often thought of as simply one form of prayer. Yet it underlies every form. Praise is always a thankful response for God’s grace. Confession gratefully presumes God’s acceptance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Intercession asks for others what one has thankfully received for oneself. Petitionary prayer is but a grateful response to God’s mercies in the past. (Psalm 75:1; 92:1; 105:1-5; 106:1-2; 107:1-9; 136; Phil. 4:6; Col. 3:16-17)
In the economy of the gospel, everything is turned upside down—including and perhaps especially our worship. Theologically our worship is not what we do. It’s what God does from the past in the present toward an explosive future. In the Word God in Christ addresses us. At the table God in Christ is the host. In our worship God comes to us as God promises. God takes what appear to be our actions, turns them upside down, and acts.
A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell.
Thanksgiving is at the heart of Christian worship. All we do in worship is essentially give thanks to God for our creation and re-creation in Jesus Christ.
The basic unit of meaning on Sunday morning is not the sermon but the service.
—Marva Dawn, Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, 215