photo by Charles Edward Case

A few years ago, I attended a teaching day where one of the presenters was a seminary professor who talked about engaging the readings we share during Holy Week. One experience she described was a Good Friday liturgy where, after the Passion Gospel was read aloud, the response in place of a spoken sermon was a piece offered in mime. She spoke of how deeply effective this was, mostly because it pointed to the truth that the reality of the story is, both literally and figuratively, beyond words.

We hold this truth in tension with the reality that our current circumstances force a particular reliance on the Word. Because we are not able to gather for our traditional Holy Week services this year, we have all been pulled into an altered relationship with the story. We must rely primarily on the text; to immerse ourselves in the written accounts of the events preceding Easter with no defaulting to traditional practices. And as we allow the retelling of these sacred events to permeate our hearts and our souls, our very being, here are some basic reminders that may be helpful along the way:

  • Everyone is implicated in Jesus’ death. Everyone involved is complicit, and that’s how it needs to be if the resurrection is to be universally powerful and salvific.
  • In that light, we can reflect on God’s work (which is larger than our failures) and God’s presence (a commitment stronger than our brokenness).
  • In those reflections we can seek God’s faithfulness even as we claim the equalizing reality that we humans did and do sin and fall short of perfection.
  • In our world so filled with fear and uncertainty, marked by hierarchy and violence, we can look to Jesus for another way: one of refusing to accept reality on those terms. Choosing instead faithful self-emptying and sacrificial love.

May our experience of Good Friday in this unsettling time be deep, and deeply connected to God’s profound love for us in Jesus Christ.