Today’s blog is a tag-team effort. Lori Porter, our Director of Prayer and Programs, and then Sarah Klingler, our Director of Communications and Education, will share their thoughts about an event they attended on Good Friday.
Five different congregations gathered at Emmanuel Christian Assembly in Barberton this past Good Friday to reflect on and commemorate the incredible sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. I was reminded of the Garden of Gethsemane and the moment Jesus looked into the cup and saw the desperate need of humankind. He knew that without His selfless sacrifice, reconciliation between people and God would be impossible, as would unity among God’s people. So Jesus selflessly told of the future events that would require suffering, and ultimately His life, and still with joy He gave Himself a ransom for us all.
One of the most powerful moments of the evening was when the pastors washed one another’s feet and prayed over one another. It reminded me how we must never forget that Christ’s example is a model to us all as to how we must be willing to live a selfless life. Of course His followers didn’t want to see Jesus suffer, but it was necessary. We must never forget that the Good of that Friday was that the sacrifice was for all people to have equal opportunity to be reconciled back to the Father and the privilege to co-labor on behalf of Jesus in the earth realm.
I’ve been reminded daily since Friday night how even today we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves for the intentional purpose of benefiting others. Our life as Christians must be an example of what it means to embrace all people- all colors, classes, cultures, and congregations through our willingness to allow others to benefit from our life and efforts. -Lori
As I sat with my family at the Good Friday service, I was struck afresh by how as followers of Christ, we really are to be one. Jesus Himself prayed this very thing. “I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (John 17:21a) Seeing five churches from different denominations, different areas of the county, and different racial makeups come together on this pivotal day of remembrance, was a beautiful picture of who we are called to be as a people. Worshiping together, praying together, and taking the Lord’s Supper together reminded me that the very thing we have in common- belief in the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ our Lord- is so much more important than those things we don’t have in common.
The world can be a vicious place, where people look out for themselves and where division is ironically the one thing that is agreed upon. The Church is called to be different, but are we? Do we major on the major things and let the minor things fall to the wayside? Have we forgotten the new-covenant family Jesus was ushering in with His death? “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” (Luke 22:20) Attending this service gave me renewed hope that there are individuals and churches who are seeking to live this out.
When Pastor Joe Schoblocher, Lead Pastor of Emmanuel Christian Assembly, welcomed everyone to his church, he shared a bit of the background of this special Good Friday service. It actually started as a result of a friendship that developed through The Love Akron Network. He and Pastor Robert DeJournett served together on the Board of Directors for Love Akron for a number of years. They became friends and in embracing the mission of the ministry, they determined to actually live that out in their own lives and congregations. Merely saying you’re a bridge builder does not make you a bridge builder. God requires us to do the work.
Joe and Robert determined to bring their congregations together for a Good Friday service. That was six years ago, and now the once-strangers feel like family, and they look forward to this time together as well as other fellowship times throughout the year. Other pastors have been invited, with this year’s service involving five different congregations- Emmanuel Christian Assembly in Barberton, Immanuel COGIC in Barberton, The Church Akron in the Summit Lake area, St. Ashworth COGIC in the Sherbondy Hill area, and City Hope in West Akron.
We need each other. We’re better when we are working on mission together to bring Kingdom transformation to individual lives and to our collective community. May we continue to embrace opportunities to pray, work, and worship together as the new-covenant family of God. -Sarah