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Good Friday services prepare local Christians for celebrating Easter on Sunday

Jacob Bollig, left, and Jarod Swaboda help carry the cross into the sanctuary during the Good Friday Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Willmar. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)1 / 2
The black curtains were drawn over the cross during a community Good Friday service at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar. The curtain will be drawn back on Easter Sunday, when the church celebrates Christ rising from the dead. (Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange)2 / 2

WILLMAR — Christians gathered for Good Friday services at area churches in preparation for Easter Sunday, when the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated.

A number of Protestant churches gathered for a joint community service at noon Friday at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar. The service included involvement of members of Calvary Lutheran, Bethel Lutheran, Eagle Lake Lutheran, First Presbyterian, Paz y Esperanza, United Methodist and Vinje Lutheran.

As in many Good Friday services, the service at Calvary Lutheran featured Jesus’ seven words from the cross, with scripture readings and corresponding messages delivered by seven church members of the participating congregations.

John Gilbertson, who read the words from Luke, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” spoke about Jesus’ compassion in requesting forgiveness for the government leaders and priests who had sentenced him to death.

“Two thousand years later, the need for forgiveness is no less,” said Gilbertson, reminding worshipers that God is quick and eager to forgive.

“How would you like to worship a God that holds a grudge?” asked Gilbertson, who is from Calvary Lutheran. “I’m so thankful for a forgiving God.”

Don Donato, from United Methodist Church, said that Good Friday” was good — in part — because Jesus told the repentant criminal who hung beside him on the cross that they would be together in heaven.

Jesus’ words that “Today you will be with me in paradise” brings a promise of hope to people today, said Donato.

Nancy Chamberlain, from First Presbyterian Church, delivered Jesus’ final words of, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

She said in her hands a baseball would be worth $6 but in the hands of a professional it would be worth a million.

Likewise, she could use her hands to make a bird house out of nails but nails in Jesus’ hands brought salvation to the entire world.

“It depends whose hands it’s in,” she said.

The service of scripture, homilies, hymns and vocal solos concluded with black curtains drawn in front of the large cross at the front of the church.

The cross will remain covered in black until Easter morning.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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