Good Friday

“What is truth?” asks Pilate. What is truth in a universe that is marked and marred by human suffering? What is the Crucifixion in the midst of all this suffering – suffering that is characteristic of human existence and suffering that demands resistance? The questions of truth and suffering defy all our attempts at reason. Yet Christians claim that love burns at the heart of this world. The essence of liturgy is that reason alone cannot contain the paradox of love and pain. It is a mystery in which we find meaning only if we can let ourselves love and be loved as Jesus loved and is loved.

In the language and symbols of worship we meet pain and find love on this day. We experience deeply within ourselves how we can love and be loved in the face of the suffering and death from which none of us has any shelter of our own devising. In the solemn reading of St. John’s Passion we hear the story of the love and death of Jesus. It is a story, not philosophy, because story alone has the power to draw us together. Jesus’ story is our story. His world is our world. His passion is our passion. His death is our death. In the prayers for the suffering world, we see with Christ the view he saw from the cross. We are drawn into the circle as his priests who try to kindle love in a broken and hurting world. In devotions at the foot of the cross, we contemplate, touch and embrace in love the symbol of the world’s pain and our own mortality. By receiving Communion from the Reserve Sacrament, we taste and take into every fiber of our frail minds and bodies the broken yet mysteriously triumphant life of Christ who is both “obedient unto death” and “highly exalted.” The Good Friday liturgy is an invitation to us to join with brothers and sisters around the world and through the ages in learning to love and be loved in the face of our deepest fears and the world’s deepest pain.

Holy Week at St. Andrew's
Maundy Thursday
The Easter Vigil

The Rev. Abbott Bailey, rector, St. Andrew’s Church. Sections of this reflection include amended excerpts from “Contemplations on the Liturgical Experience of Holy Week” by the Reverend Dr. Lindon Eaves (1993) and Steven Van Voorhees (2002).