Good Friday

Deena Guzder 5-24-2017

Image used with permission from Mitchell McCoy / KARK.

Griffen is still flummoxed how a ruling on a routine property case coupled with participation in his church’s Good Friday prayer vigil put him in the eye of a political storm — one that may now cost him his job. But he suspects the issue goes deeper than whether or not he impartially followed the law.

Lyndsay West 4-18-2017

Paschal pardon here exemplifies a miscarriage of justice for one of the prisoners. The custom condemns Jesus, whose guilt is dubious. Ultimately, Jesus divinely conquers the unjust system at hand when he walks freely among his disciples in the flesh, three days after he is crucified as a criminal. But the possibility of a triumphant erasure of crime in the U.S. is limited. Constitutionally, the president can offer clemency — or “leniency” — for any federal offense, aside from cases involved with impeachment, by two methods: commute, which lessens the sentence but retains civil restrictions like the loss of the right to vote, or pardon, which eliminates the sentence entirely.

Ruben Enaje, 57, who is portraying Jesus Christ for the 31st time, grimaces in pain as he was nailed on a wooden cross during a Good Friday re-enactment. April 14, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Nine Filipinos were nailed to crosses in three villages in the province of Pampanga, 80 km (50 miles) north of the capital, Manila, drawing hundreds of tourists despite the Catholic church's disapproval of what it sees as a form of folk religion.

Kaitlin Curtice 4-14-2017

There was something about you there on that cross, that Good Friday.
There was something about your body there, about your manner.
Irony of all ironies, you were the “Son of God,” sent back to God by crucifixion.

 

Layton E. Williams 4-13-2017
a stained glass window depict Jesus on the cross.

Submissive obedience is deeply embedded in Christian theology. The origin of sin is attributed to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden. Jesus, by contrast, is described as “obedient unto death” — an example we are taught to emulate. God is depicted as all-powerful, all-knowing, a king and lord and father with relentless control over all things. And we — broken, limited, and prone to mistakes — are meant to trust God in all things, and give ourselves over completely to God’s divine power. This call to submissive obedience is exemplified, more clearly than anywhere else, in Jesus’ willing submission to torture and death on the cross.

Good Friday is an invitation for us, every year, to ask: What is actually good about Jesus’ death on the cross? What about it is salvific, and what is it saving us from?

Joe Boland 4-13-2017

Image via RNS/Catholic Extension/Rich Kalonick

When I asked Father Guy Wilson what the children of immigrant parents are telling him, amid the current inundation with media chatter, political rhetoric, and executive action on the topic of immigration, tears welled up in his eyes and one fell on his clerical shirt.

“It’s hard,” he said. “They are so scared.”

“Some of the teenagers have told me: ‘My parents are good people. They have never even had a traffic ticket. Why would anyone want to take them away from me?’”

Jim Wallis 4-13-2017

In so many of the gospel stories that are familiar to us, women were behind the scenes — always there, always present, always faithful — but nearly always in the background and hardly ever mentioned by the men in the stories, and certainly not the ones writing the stories. Their testimony as women was not even admissible in court under Jewish law; the word of a woman had no public credibility in that patriarchal culture. But God chose to reveal the miracle of Jesus' resurrection first to women. They were then told to report the astonishing news of the empty tomb to the men.

In the midst of so much death, how can we Christians celebrate Easter?

These questions can be paired with questions regarding our own sense of worship on that day. How much have we Christians replaced justice with worship, not taking one into serious relation with the other? Are we accustomed to worship in the total absence of justice?

Image via RNS/Tom Gallagher

With the blessing of Pope Francis, Cardinal Blase Cupich on April 4 unveiled an anti-violence initiative for this beleaguered city that will be underscored by a Good Friday procession, using the traditional stations of Jesus’ way to the cross to commemorate those who have lost their lives in street violence.

Cupich said he was inviting civic, education, and religious leaders, and “all people of good will,” to take part in the April 14 “Peace Walk” through the heart of the violence-scarred Englewood neighborhood.

          Light dimming now the two friends hurry
to lower the body. Joseph’s thumb bleeds,
stuck by thorns when he cradled the head
while servants wrapped limbs in carry sling.
Nicodemus staggers beneath a hundred
pounds of spice-packed jars on his back,
no heavier, he thinks, than the fear which
held him burdened for so long.

          In silence they leave
the carrion crowd, wind along stone garden paths,
weave past carved caves. The grave they had readied
for themselves in death, the two now give
the Galilean—though they know now
it was life he had bestowed when first they met
in dark of night, in temple yard.

          In silence they perform
the ancient rituals. Wash the body,
anoint with aloe, wind the myrrh-filled cloth
encircling feet, legs, arms, hands,
strips of linen woven under the scarred
small of his back, stretched across his yielding
torso, layer upon layer of burial resin
mixed with aloe filling
the stone chamber with the scent of death.

          Light dimming now the two friends hurry
to shroud the head, cover the beloved’s face.
Their hearts say linger but day is gone
so they pull the stone in place, rush to wash
for Sabbath prayers.

          In silence the garden sighs.
Plants furl in the dark. The rising wind keens
the song a thousand spices cannot mask,
the dark a tombed heart
too heavy for even night to bear.

Warren Hall 1-12-2017

Image via RNS/Francis Micklow/courtesy of The Star-Ledger

It has also been five months since Myers suspended me from all priestly ministry, for my “disobedience” in continuing to be involved with that same work against LGBT discrimination.

That’s given me a lot of time to think about what would happen when a new archbishop came to Newark, and what my future would be.

Kylie Beach 3-25-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Loving others isn’t something we do as an act of charity. It’s an imitation…a celebration of the love we’ve known in the death of Jesus for our sakes. He spent himself, and we are to spend ourselves for our neighbours.

Christian Piatt 3-24-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Poor people just don’t know what’s good for them. Freedom, after all, is only possible after order is established. If they can’t do for themselves what needs to be done, we’ll do what needs to be done anyway. Protect them from themselves.

As for the radical, his calls for “change” and a better way of life will fade after people are sufficiently fed, safe, and entertained. After all, who has the appetite for revolution when their bellies are already full?

They’ll thank us later.

Eric Barreto 3-23-2016

Image via Valentina Calà/Flickr

In the space between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, between the acclaiming of Jesus as a king and his execution as a threat to the political order, I was no more ready to read the news this morning. The stifling, exhausting repetition of violence and terrorism is both all too common but still shocking. And yet, I hope that Christians in particular can draw upon the narrative arc that moves us from Jesus’ triumphal entry to his seeming defeat on Calvary.

Christian Piatt 3-23-2016

I drove by a church last week, a few days before Palm Sunday, and read their sign: CHRIST HAS RISEN!

Um, no. No he hasn’t. In the Christian calendar he hasn’t even died yet. But this is an all-too-common phenomenon in Christian Churches.

Why?

Tom Getman 4-12-2015
Bishop Rubin Phillip. Photo via Diakonia Council of Churches on Facebook.

Bishop Rubin Phillip speaks at the Good Friday service. Photo via Diakonia Council of Churches on Facebook.

“Come to the living God … Come to stand alongside those who suffer
Come to those who seek freedom … Come to resist all that offends God’s justice
Come to Jesus as He hangs on the Cross … Come to the living disturbing God.”

DURBAN, South Africa — A precursor to Easter sunrise and call to commitment is the now 30-year ritual Good Friday packing of the International Exhibition Center with 3,000+ ecumenical congregants participating (with dance, choir, prayers, and prophetic preaching) in the call to “Arise – Act for a Just Society.” Anglican Bishop Rubin Phillip set the scene with a moving historical reminder of the reason for the 1985 first march to the central prison. It was to protest the silencing of the 16 Durban “treason trialists” (including congregational deacon Archie Gumede, and Frank Chikane, post-apartheid member of the first multiracial Assembly, Apostolic pastor, and future President Nelson Mandela staff chief). Family members of the incarcerated and current elected leaders carried a cross to city hall, calling all to love mercy and act justly. We paused to give thanks for their courage at the one remaining wall of the prison now in the front plaza of the iconic convention center. When the first march 30 years ago stopped to sing and pray, “voices were heard from inside the prison joining in the singing of Good Friday hymns.”

4-06-2015
The stark reality is that Jesus was killed because of what he said and did.
Shane Claiborne 4-02-2015

We call it Holy Week. But it was a terrible week.

His trial reeked of injustice. His own disciple sold him out for a few pieces of silver, betrayed him with a kiss … and hung himself.

As he was arrested, one of his closest friends disregarded all his teaching on love, pulled out a knife, and cut a guy’s ear off. (Jesus called him out … and healed the other guy). A lot of the stuff that happened that first holy week was pretty unholy.

Once arrested, he was passed back and forth between politicians and bureaucrats. There was Caiaphas the priest, the Sanhedrin council, Pontius Pilate, the crowd — everyone seemed to want him dead, but no one wanted blood on their hands. Even Pilate washed his clean.

They had all kinds of accusations. Insurrection. Inciting a riot. Conspiracy. Terrorism (plotting to destroy the temple). Blasphemy.

But all he did was love. And heal. And give people hope.

Despite any substantial evidence, witnesses, or signs of any crime committed, he was pronounced guilty and sentenced to die.

As he awaited his fate, he was bullied, interrogated, harassed, tortured, beaten to a pulp. The authorities humiliated him and stripped him naked. They mocked the claims of his divinity, ramming a crown of thorns onto his head and wrapping him in a royal purple robe as they laughed.

And so it went. This man who many believe was the holy one that the prophets spoke of, the long-awaited Messiah, God incarnate, love with skin on— was executed, brutally. He died with his body convulsing as his lungs collapsed, with vultures swarming overhead, hoping to clean up after the execution. There is nothing more evil than what happened that “Good” Friday.

Photo via Olga Pink / Shutterstock / RNS

Decorated Easter eggs. Photo via Olga Pink / Shutterstock / RNS

This is Holy Week, the most sacred time of year for Christians. It is the time they mark the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, and a week that culminates in Easter Sunday, the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. So what do colored eggs have to do with anything? Let us Egg-‘Splain …

Q: Is Holy Week really a whole week? I only know about Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

A: Holy Week is the entire week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Not a whole lot happens on Monday and Tuesday, but some Christians mark the crucifixion on Wednesday, and some celebrate Maundy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper, Jesus’ final Passover meal with his disciples. It is sometimes celebrated with a foot-washing ceremony, a tradition beloved by Pope Francis, and a “Pascha” or “Paschal” meal, derived from the Jewish Passover Jesus would have known. Then comes Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Fun fact: Not all American Christians greet each other with “Happy Easter.” To many evangelicals, the day is “Resurrection Sunday,” in part because they believe the word “Easter” has pagan roots.

Q: What is so “good” about Good Friday, the day Jesus was horribly tortured to death?

 
Photo via Sally Morrow / RNS

A statue depicting Mary holding Jesus after his crucifixion. Photo via Sally Morrow / RNS

This year, Good Friday and the start of Passover occur on the same date: Friday, April 3. The coincidence is no accident.

Jesus’ pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the eight-day Jewish festival marking the Hebrew slaves’ exodus from Egyptian slavery was a religious requirement for Jews of his day. After his death by Roman crucifixion, Passover became an integral part of the Easter story, and Jesus’ Last Supper was like an early version of what later became the Passover seder meal.

In past years, I anonymously attended Good Friday services in New York and sat alongside Christians as they commemorated the death of Jesus as recounted in the New Testament Gospel of John. I alternated each year between Roman Catholic and Protestant churches because I was interested in how preachers handled John’s 71 references to the Jewish people, a text that’s often called “radioactive” because of its negative teaching about Jews and their alleged culpability in killing Jesus.

I attend the most solemn Christian service of the year knowing it had often been a day of dread and even death for many European Jewish communities.

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