Friday, April 06, 2012
What could possibly be good about a Friday over 2,000 years ago when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross? How could death, and a terribly painful one at that, be good? Where did the idea come from to call this day in Holy Week “good?” The source is unclear. Some have suggested it is a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday.” It is the title for this day among English and Dutch speaking people, but few others.
The liturgical title for this day in the Western church was “Friday of Preparation,” similar to what the Jews called Friday — paraskeue (getting ready) or “day of preparation.” Other names used are “Holy Friday” among the Latin nations, “Great Friday” among the Slavic countries, “Friday of Mourning” in Germany, “Long Friday” in Norway, and “Holy Friday” among Hispanics.
Good Friday is good because, on this day God reconciled the world to himself in Christ. For us it is “good” because we look back at the crucifixion through the lens of Easter!
This is the starkest day of the Christian year. There are no adornments in the church. No gold is in sight. The Table is bare. No Bible is on the pulpit. Nothing but a simple wooden cross is present. Black is the theme chosen by many for this day, but the overwhelming consensus has been to use no color at all. In many churches, there is no music today, and in those where music is played, it is simple with only a keyboard, a piano, or a guitar. The ministers enter in silence. There are no choirs and no special music. Holy Communion is not to be offered at this service, nor at any time again until the Great Vigil or Easter Sunday morning. The service is ended without a benediction, but with a simple dismissal prayer and all depart in silence. This is the prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (page 282):
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen,