Today we marked Good Friday with the three o’clock Solemn Liturgy at St Alban’s Church and a Stations of the Cross service at the Church on Oakwood.The events of that first ‘Good’ Friday take us to a dark place, it is hard to imagine the depths of suffering that Jesus went through because of his great love for us. As Father Paul said in his homily, it is natural to want to pass quickly over this part of Holy Week, it seems so unutterably bleak, and to jump straight to the joy and glory of Easter Sunday. However, we know that this is not possible – Easter cannot happen without the blood, pain and sacrifice of Good Friday.
On this day the Church does not celebrate Mass, instead our liturgy focuses on the Passion of our Lord, the adoration and veneration of the Cross, and contrition and recognition of our faults. The service begins with the priests and deacons dramatically lying prostrate before the altar. We hear the account of Jesus’s final hours from St John’s Gospel, and are reminded how he remained selfless till the end – “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” We too are invited to take Mary as our Mother and to look to her as a source of strength when facing the most desperate times in our lives.
The Cross is raised up for our adoration and we are instructed to “Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the salvation of the world.” Today we listened to the beautiful Celtic version of ‘When I survey the Wond’rous Cross’ while individually venerating the Cross with a kiss.
We still share in Holy Communion with our brothers and sisters on this day, using the reserved hosts left from the Holy Thursday Mass. Reminding us that Christ is always available to us and never abandons his people.
Our thanks go to Fr Paul, Fr Philip and Deacon Juan Carlos who led us in our worship, as well as to the altar servers who performed their duties with sincerity and grace as always.
At The Church on Oakwood we meditated on the Way of the Cross with our fellow Christians from the Morning Congregation. The theme of this year’s service was taken from the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes – “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in anyway afflicted, these are the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the People of God.”
We looked at the events of Jesus’ final journey through the prism of the destruction that was wreaked on Myanmar by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. 140 000 people lost their lives, with up to 50% of the population dying in some communities. CAFOD has worked with the people to try and rebuild their lives and provided us with poignant images of how they are coping. Kyin Nu lost three of her children in the Cyclone and life remains difficult. Her harrowing account of that day and its impact, punctuated our account of what Jesus faced at his fourteen stations of loss, pain and degredation.
After reflecting on each Station we asked God to: “Open my eyes, my ears, my heart, Lord. Help me to see, to hear, to love as you do. Fill me with compassion, leading me to action. Amen.”
Our thanks go to Sandra Endsor for organising this powerful and challenging liturgy.