In the beginning God speaks six times on six days, and then stops. God rests. But each of these days also has a night. And God rests then too! God doesn’t talk all the time. In fact, Genesis doesn’t even start with a word. Genesis starts with the formlessness of the earth and with the Spirit of God brooding over the face of the deep. Then God speaks. You might almost say that at last God speaks. “Let there be light,” says God. According to Genesis, God breaks the cosmic silence with a creative word.
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After hearing about the Good Friday Tenebrae service at Calvin College several times, I decided to go last year. Arriving shortly before the service was to begin, I was amazed to find every seat taken; more than twelve hundred students already filled the auditorium.
I am no liturgical expert. But I do care about liturgy and often feel its power to lift or depress, to focus or scatter attention. Especially, I feel its power to attach us to Jesus Christ.
Given the nature of my ministerial work, I am able to get out for a fair amount of guest preaching. Usually a consistory wants the newcomer to lead worship as well as preach, but sometimes others lead. In either case, a guest preacher both participates in and observes an already established pattern. Such experiences prompt the following observations.