The meaning of Good Friday was explored during the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Seymour.

More than 170 people gathered Friday at the Pines Evergreen Room in Seymour for the traditional event, which attracts city and county officials, area clergymen and other community leaders to pray together.

In his prayer, Mayor Craig Luedeman asked for a “renewal and recommitment of life” for all those in attendance and for all people in this country and in the world.

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“Help us to be gentle and understanding, to stand for what is right, to be anxious for the rights of others as we are our own, to be as eager to forgive others as we seek forgiveness from you and to help us to know no barriers so that our love is like yours, a love for all people,” he said. “May we enjoy these blessings, not only on Easter but all through the year.”

Bill Everhart, director of the Seymour Department of Public Works, provided the morning’s invocation.

“We are hear to recognize and celebrate the culmination of your plan of salvation for each one of us through Jesus Christ,” Everhart said. “We know what happened, but we also know something that even the Disciples didn’t know then. We know that Sunday is coming.”

After a buffet breakfast, guests were treated to a musical performance of “I Come to the Cross,” and “Within the Shadow of the Cross,” by the Lutheran Men’s Chorus.

Pastor John Erickson of First Presbyterian Church in Seymour read from the Gospel of Mark, telling the story of the crucifixion. He then delivered a message that asked the question “What is so good about Good Friday?”

“Out of all the days in the church year that we could easily call good, why did we pick this one?” he asked. “What is good about what we remember today?”

The definition of good is to be pleasant and creative and all things wonderful, he said, but it is placed with Friday, the day Jesus Christ died.

“The two things don’t really seem to go together very well,” he said. “It’s kind of like calling Judas a loyal friend.”

Erickson said it is considered Good Friday because without the death of Jesus Christ there would be no resurrection and without the resurrection his death is meaningless.

The day is good, because Jesus’ death is what frees people from the power of sin and death, he added.

Good also can be used to define the day as pious or sacred, a day that is consecrated and set apart from different days to remember Jesus’ sacrifice.

But still, Erickson said, he can’t help but wonder if Good Friday really is good, because of all that Jesus had to go through, from being stripped and beaten, humiliated and made to wear a crown of thorns.

“The crowd will line the streets to jeer and insult him and spit on him, trip him up as he carries that cross,” Erickson preached. “His hands and feet will be bound to the wood as the nails pierce his flesh, while the onlookers go on, still making a joke of him. ‘You want to save me,’ they said, ‘Why don’t you save yourself?’”

And then the cross was lifted, and Jesus died.

“Six hours of slow, excruciating death, and we call it good,” Erickson said.

If there is anything good about Good Friday, Erickson said, it is not that Jesus died in such a horrible way, but what that death meant for the world.

“The events that we remember today are awful, they are not good, but what they reveal about the love of God and Jesus Christ certainly is good,” he said. “It reveals a love that will stop at nothing to seek and save our lives. A love that will not be conquered by the powers of this world. “And a love that is willing to take up its cross even unto death.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.