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Good Friday

It may seem as though Good Friday were a grim day, but we call it "Good" for a reason.  As horrible as the cross was and is, it is the moment of God's absolute solidarity with humankind.  Perhaps we are a bit subdued this day, but there is a quiet joy and a firm desire to re-affirm Jesus' own words about his death: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32).

There are three different opportunities for worship this day.

Simon of Cyrene is Forced to Take Jesus' Cross
Stations of the Cross
At 9 am there is an ecumenical outdoor Stations of the Cross, beginning at First Genesis Baptist Church, 292 Hudson Ave.  The Stations of the Cross is a devotion that developed in Jerusalem as pilgrims desired to walk the way of Jesus during his final hours.  The earliest known organized Stations of the Cross was in 1342 in the Franciscan Community in Jerusalem.  At each of 14 traditional stations, there are prayers and a brief reflection (there are sometimes as few as eight stations, the eight that can be attested to in the Gospels).  At this ecumenical Stations, we pray for the concerns of the neighborhood and the city as we stop at places where justice is done or where violence has happened.  There are many on-line versions of the Stations of the Cross, including a very good one for children, and a site that includes audio, and one with nice background music.






The Liturgy of the Day
At 12:05 pm we celebrate the Liturgy of the Day as provided for by The Book of Common Prayer. The form of this liturgy is among the oldest known to us.  It was described by a pilgrim nun named Egeria, who was in Jerusalem sometime between the years 381 and 384.  What e have of Egeria's journal can be found here.  The liturgy consists of four parts:
  • The Liturgy of the Word, which includes the reading or singing of the Passion according to John's Gospel.  We edit this reading using some well-attested principals so as to remove text that is clearly anti-Semitic.
  • The Prayers of the Day, called "The Solemn Collects," are a full expression of our constant need to offer the whole world to God.
  • The Adoration of the Cross follows. A simple wooden cross is placed before the people, anthems and hymns are sung, and some people come forward for a personal moment of devotion.
  • Holy Communion consecrated at the Maundy Thursday Service is distributed to those who desire it.  This is not the custom of everyone, but has been part of the Good Friday tradition for many centuries.
Tenebrae
We celebrate the Office of Tenebrae at 7 pm at St. Stephen's Church (350 Chili Ave.).  The word "tenebrae" is Latin for "shadows" or "darkness." It originated in the texts appointed for Matins and Lauds on the last three days of Holy Week in most monastic communities.  These were combined to form one Service. The principal symbol at this Service is the gradual extinguishing of candles, until the shadows prevail.  Traditionally the readings have been from the Book of Lamentations, but we use the Passion Gospel from John.  The Service ends with "the great noise," the slamming of a book or some other object in remembrance of the earthquake that is said to have struck after Jesus' death.  This is a lovely Service, at which our choirs sing.

A lovely reading of James Weldon Johnson's Crucifixion is here.
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