By LINDA M. LINONIS
The Rev. Peg Welch posed the question, “Why Good Friday?” in her address to 400 people at the 34th annual Good Friday breakfast sponsored by the YMCA at the Central Y.
The co-pastor of Boardman United Methodist Church discussed that question and continued with other questions and answers in her presentation.
She said Jesus’ entry into Jersusalem was fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah.
“People knew the prophecy of the king of kings,” she said.
So, she wondered aloud, why did they greet Jesus with “hosanna,” which means save, and not alleluia? The crowd addressed Jesus with the word used 150 years before when Judah Macabee battled and defeated the Greeks to preserve Jewish traditions. Now, the crowd wanted Jesus “to cleanse the area of the Romans.”
“The people expected a political savior,” the Rev. Mrs. Welch said. When it became apparent Jesus was not that kind of savior, the crowd turned on him.
“Jesus knew what was coming,” she said. “He knew he would pray alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, he knew Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.” But, she continued, Jesus accepted his destiny “for all people ... for you and me.”
During Lent, the question to ourselves should be — “Am I following the right path?” the minister asked. Jesus, she said, provided the example of the “way of peace” and “sacrifice.”
But she observed, “Don’t we feel self-righteous when we sacrifice? Don’t we want it to be noticed?” She said that most people aren’t willing to travel the “lonely way.”
The speaker said Good Friday certainly was the “worst day in history” for Jesus and believers. But what happened on Good Friday led to “eternal life and redemption.”
Mrs. Welch said Good Friday emphasizes “the one who was truly selfless.” She asked audience members if each would be willing to take the narrow path of being selfless and answered her own question that Good Friday is the perfect day to do so. “Good Friday is the opportunity for transformation, redemption and change,” she said. In essence, make good on your beliefs by acting on them.
She asked the audience to have a one-minute discussion at their tables on “What is making God cry?”
And she answered. “Poverty of spirit that destroys lives. Poverty of ethics that destroys communities.”
Mrs. Welch asked God “to free us from what divides us as people and prevents us from loving one another.” She suggested everyone become a “beacon of hope in a hurting world.”
Michael Shaffer, Central YMCA director, welcomed the gathering by noting “Good Friday celebrates the life, death and Resurrection of Christ. It’s up to us to keep the C in YMCA [Young Men’s Christian Association],” he said. He also was chairman of the Spiritual Emphasis Committee, which arranges the breakfast.
Carol Ann Smolka sang “God Bless America” and “The Old Rugged Cross” with guitar accompaniment by Ben Dague.
Timothy M. Hilk, YMCA chief executive officer, said a spin-a-thon fundraiser in February raised $55,000 and an anonymous donor gave a matching donation. Funds will benefit a youth development program.