Tag Archives: Good Friday

Just another Friday…..

A University friend, many years ago, was Ordained and Inducted to his first Charge – in Glesga.

One of the first things he did was to consult with the Session Clerk (Senior Elder) about forthcoming events in the Congregation that had been arranged prior to his becoming Minister there.

At one point, he asked if there would be a Good Friday evening service that particular year.

“What date is Good Friday this year?” .

Checking his diary. “This year it falls on 25 March (or whatever)”.

A momentary silence.

Then the Session Clerk pipes up, “But…but…no…no; that’s the date of the Annual Congregation Dance and ‘Race Night'”

Only in Weegieland!


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Lego Easter Story

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Black Friday


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November 28, 2014 · 19:29

Black Saturday

Black Saturday

Friday is past; Sunday is yet to come

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April 19, 2014 · 12:46

The Way We Were

from the Telegraph


The way we were: a religious procession passes through Southwark on Good Friday in April 1912 Photo: Getty Images
By A N Wilson7:20AM BST 18 Apr 2014

When I read that Marks & Spencer had pioneered the Toffee Fudge and Belgian Chocolate Hot Cross Bun, my reaction was completely irrational. Hot Cross buns have long been an all-year-round item on supermarket shelves. They are, after all, just sticky buns with spice and a few raisins in them. But then, there is that pastry cross on top of them. Adding fudge and chocolate seems, well, profane: a step in the direction of a chocolate-covered communion wafer.
Of course, this reaction is absurd, but it is what I felt. I am 63 years old. Throughout my lifetime, the observance of Good Friday in Britain has become ever more secularised. Time was, Hot Cross buns were eaten only on this day – and sometimes distributed, with sixpences, to poor widow-women. (Such handouts would no doubt scandalise today’s clerics, who regard food banks not as positive opportunities for Christian charity, but as evidence of a deplorable failure by the state.)
This year is the first in which there will be Good Friday race meetings in Britain – at Lingfield and Musselburgh. Why not, if people want to go to the races on the day Jesus was crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross?
I grew up in a religiously divided household. My father was a modern atheist who felt – quite understandably, it seems to me – that there was no reason why he should, for example, not have bacon and eggs merely because of an event that was alleged to have occurred in Jerusalem some nineteen hundred and more years ago.
My mother, however, who normally cooked his breakfast, always refused to cook meat on Good Friday, and we had only one meal in the whole day – a rather tasteless fish pie. She was not fervent in her religion. But there was something special about this day.

I remember one year during the Sixties when we were all listening to Any Questions on what was in those days called the wireless. On the panel were, among others, the writer Marghanita Laski, and some cleric, possibly a bishop. They were asked whether they thought there should be so secular a programme as Any Questions on the day that Christ was crucified.
Marghanita, who had one of the most melodious voices in the history of broadcasting, said, very slowly, that she was an atheist. If, however, like the cleric beside her, she were a Christian, she would be unable to take part in a wireless show on the day her God had died. A strange hush seemed to emanate from the wireless set. A hush fell on the room where we listened. That was it. Good Friday is the day when God died. You could not get more solemn.
In all the churches, there were services. We would go to a said Morning Prayer, followed by the first part of the Communion – for, since Christ was, as it were, dead for the day, there could be no sacraments. Sometimes, we would go to a service called the Three Hours, or part of it, in which a preacher took you through the Last Words on the Cross, interspersed with those haunting hymns, such as Watts’s When I Survey the Wondrous Cross and C F Alexander’s There Is a Green Hill Far Away.
The Roman Catholics would be having services that seemed almost like Passion plays to our moderate Anglican eyes – “Creeping to the Cross” being one of them – when the congregation would come up to kiss the feet of a replica of the Crucified Saviour.
The more exotic of our Catholic friends would come back from Spain, with stories of the Holy Week processions through the streets of Seville or Cádiz, where the whole solemn story would be enacted, either by people impersonating Christ, His Mother, Pilate and the Chief Priests; or in which gory painted statues would be trundled through the streets in commemoration of those shocking events – Christ arrested in Gethsemane, Christ arraigned before the Chief Priests and Pilate, Christ mocked and scourged and crowned with thorns, Christ nailed to a cross.
It was because of these awesome events that the secular world, whatever it believed for the rest of the year, sank into a shocked stillness on Good Friday. “I would ask you to recollect,” John Henry Newman once told his Oxford congregation, when preaching about the last agonies of the Crucified, “that the Person to whom these things were done was” – an electric pause – “none other than Almighty God.”
Presumably, by the time I was growing up, fewer and fewer people did actually believe this, with every fibre of their imaginative being. It is, after all, a belief that defies imaginative analysis.
When you think of the sordid and horrific reality of crucifixion – which was a very common form of punishment in the Roman Empire – the origins of the Christian religion seem all the more remarkable. Pilate once crucified 2,000 Jewish rebels in one batch.
But, some time before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70, an ingenious Platonist wrote what we call the Letter to the Hebrews, in which all the Temple rituals were seen as foreshadowing the death of Christ. The lambs were taken outside the camp for slaughter; Jesus was crucified outside the city walls. The animal-blood was sprinkled for the cleansing of sin; the blood of the figure on the Cross cleansed his followers from sin. The High Priest entered through the veil of the Holy of Holies; the tortured figure on the Cross was seen as a priest entering the Holy of Holies – Heaven – for the sake of the human race. Anyone who thinks the New Testament was written for simpletons should read Hebrews, and wonder that such a complicated, clever, and utterly paradoxical “take” on a vile execution procedure could ever have been set down.
Even if you do not believe it, the story is so awe-inspiring, so shocking, that the day set aside for its remembrance becomes special. For this reason, bookies and race-goers refrained from going to Epsom or Newmarket. For many years, newspapers did not appear. Oddly enough, this was a 20th-century phenomenon. This newspaper first appeared on a Good Friday in jolly old secular 1856. But in the grief-stricken postwar atmosphere of 1919, it stopped publishing on that day and retained this pious custom until 1987. The BBC, in its Reithian days, went into a purple solemnity, which it still (on Radio 3, at least) partially retains, with renditions of Bach’s St Matthew Passion or Stainer’s Crucifixion.
For most of us, however, in the secularised West, Good Friday has simply become the first day of a holiday. Radio and television stations know that it is a time for assessing the levels of traffic congestion on motorways. Watching the engine overheat all the way to Devon or Pembrokeshire is our equivalent of “Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward”.
It is a far cry from John Donne’s journey from Warwickshire into Wales on Good Friday, when, with all his complicated ingenuity, he meditated on the paradox that he had his back to the East – Jerusalem – and was making his way towards the setting sun. Not because he turned his back on Christ, but because, like Moses, he could not see Glory without being dazzled – and because his back deserved to be chastised by God.
Many of us, even if we are Christians, find it hard to know how to observe this day. Beautiful as the Hebrews “letter” or John Donne’s poem may have been, can we really get our minds round them? The fervently pious will continue to attend the appropriate liturgies. Many of us will sheepishly retreat into silence, thinking that we will simply attend the service on Easter Morning.
For the likes of us, perhaps Auden – in his poem commemorating the hanging of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by the Nazis – will be a more companionable poet than Donne:
Meanwhile, a silence on the cross
As dead as we shall ever be,
Speaks of some total gain or loss,
And you and I are free
To guess from the insulted face
Just what Appearances He saves
By suffering in a public place
A death reserved for slaves.

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A Passion Play

Gormless Labour council bans Good Friday Passion of the Christ play because they thought it was a live SEX show

PUBLISHED: 17:15, 16 April 2014. Daily Mail (extract)
Through centuries and across countries, it has remained a staple of traditional Easter celebrations.
But that rich history, it seems, has been rather lost on one council bureaucrat – who forced a church to cancel its Passion play because he apparently thought it was a sex show.
The performance, telling the story of the crucifixion of Christ, had been planned for Good Friday by St Stephen’s House Theological College and Saints Mary and John Church in Oxford.
That was until an official at the local Labour council refused to rubber-stamp the event, forcing the church to scrap it at short notice.

Oxford City Council banned the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (shown here from its last performance in 2012) wrongly believing the play was a sex show and could cause ‘grave offence’

Actors had planned to walk through the streets of Oxford on Friday to re-enact the lead up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has they had done previously in 2012 
The worker in question apparently did not know that a Passion play was a religious affair – and thought it was an obscene production.
Last night ministers, MPs and religious groups criticised the ‘unbelievable’ actions of Oxford City Council, saying it showed Christians were becoming increasingly marginalised in society.
A Passion play is a dramatic performance of the Passion of Christ, depicting the trial, crucifixion and death of Jesus. The name comes from the Latin verb ‘pati’, meaning ‘to suffer’.

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The Great North Passion


By Edward Malnick8:00AM GMT 12 Jan 2014  The Sunday Telegraph
It is the greatest story ever told. But never before has it been told quite like this.
The BBC is planning to dramatise the final moments before Jesus Christ’s crucifixion using a giant cross made up of dozens of shipping containers.
The broadcaster will tell the Easter story in a live spectacle on the north east coast in an attempt to appeal to non-religious viewers put off by traditional church services.
Up to 80 shipping containers will be placed on the seafront of South Shields, providing a walk-through set for a series of dance and musical performances in an hour-long programme on BBC One.
The scale of the cross, which will be longer than St Paul’s Cathedral, is intended to replicate the length of the path trodden by Christ on the way to his crucifixion.

The BBC believes the show, due to be broadcast on Good Friday, will attract viewers who would not be drawn to its traditional Easter broadcasting, including a live church service and a choral performance at King’s College chapel in Cambridge.
Aaqil Ahmed, the corporation’s head of religion, said the programme, called The Great North Passion, was designed to appeal to “absolutely anybody”.
“It is an event to mark the story for a wider audience who may not necessarily watch the actual religious services,” he said.
“The Easter services will be primarily aimed at a religious audience. We should get something for everybody in there.”
The plans, which will be announced on Tuesday, come after a previous project overseen by Mr Ahmed in 2012 saw the story of the Passion – Christ’s trial, death and resurrection – retold in a live “contemporary” performance in the centre of Preston, with the involvement of hundreds of volunteers.
The programme, which was presented by Fern Britton and included a live performance by Jamelia, the soul singer, was watched by more than one million viewers.
“In Preston it really worked and it is something we have wanted to do ever since – to find a way to engage with as many people as possible and bring the meaning of a significant religious story to as many different people as possible,” Mr Ahmed said.
Among the dozens of shipping containers forming the shape of a cross on Good Friday will be one for each of the 14 stations of the cross, which traditionally mark the final moments before Christ’s crucifixion.
Before being transported to Bents Park in South Shields to form part of the final installation they be placed, for around two months, in different areas across the North East to be developed into “pieces of art”.
Starting next month, the BBC wants to transform the containers into “contemporary original works”, each reflecting the themes of individual stations of the cross.
It is commissioning visual artists, dancers, musicians, poets and writers to take responsibility for a single container and to develop it with the involvement of local communities. The broadcaster is working with the Cultural Spring, a scheme which helps young people to get involved in arts projects in Sunderland and South Tyneside.
Mr Ahmed, who is from Bolton and is now based at the BBC’s Salford headquarters, said holding the event in the North East would highlight “parts of the country which many people discount”.
The region has “huge” historical ties to Christianity, he added, citing Bede, the Anglo-Saxon theologian thought to have been born in Monkton, Durham, and the Lindisfarne Gospels, which were produced at the beginning of the eighth century in a monastery off the coast of Northumberland.
Mr Ahmed, the BBC’s first Muslim head of religion, suggested the scale of the project would act as a rebuke to commentators who claimed that the BBC failed to provide enough coverage of religion.
“Religious programming, particularly on the BBC is really alive. It can be quite frustrating when you get people who are saying that the BBC or broadcasters in general don’t care about religion, because just look at what we do.
“I think the Great North Passion also shows that the status quo isn’t something we have to accept, we can go out there and do something very different.”

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The Rose – Some Thoughts for Mothering Sunday (Lent 4)

“Say it with flowers!”   I’m sure florists all over the land have been inundated during the last few days with orders for bouquets, sprays, and posies.

Today, of course, is Mothering Sunday, and what symbolises the love we feel today, and the joy we feel today, than the beautiful gift of a flower….and particularly that of a rose…

“Enough the rose was heaven to smell”  – that’s a fine line….

…yes, there is something special, beautiful, almost heavenly  about a rose.

It is a thing of beauty; a thing of joy.  Roses and rejoicing go well together.

The Prophet Isaiah when talking of the future glory of Zion writes:

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose

He seems to link the rejoicing of the people with the blossoming of the rose.

The rose – it symbolises fertility, joy, success – it is something to be prized.

It’s not new, however, this giving of a rose to a worthy recipient at this time of year, you know

On the fourth Sunday in Lent,  a Golden Rose, an ornament was given by the Roman Catholic Church to worthy women as well as men as a mark of special favour – rather like the Oscars of their day.

It’s said that the tradition dates back a long way to the time of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, when, supposedly, a bud or flower sprouted on Joseph’s staff or rod –  an indication that he was the man Mary should become engaged to & a fulfilment of the prophesy:

There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him

Somewhere along the line, this tale got less concerned with the birth of the Saviour and more with his mother.  Artists in the Middle Ages liked to depict the happy couple, Mary & Joseph, together at the scene of their betrothal – rod, bud, flower and all.   And a caption was often to be found beneath the picture: “She is the flower, she is the rose” referring, of course, to Mary

The Rose….in her were the virtues of the rose – sensitivity, beauty, serenity.

Think of her life – a life of love, a life of piety

Think on these early years – told that she had been chosen to give birth to God’s own son;

then the journey to Bethlehem;

and the flight to Egypt –

–          all done calmly, faithfully – for the love of God and of  her child.

Then think of all the times when Jesus did or said things that she couldn’t comprehend – and on occasion said things that must have hurt her very much

But the love was still there in Mary’s heart

The whole Jesus-story must have seemed like a ghastly riddle to which there was no clue.  But she accepted it all – in love, in faith.

A mother’s love never dies.  It goes on even to the point of death, even when the crowds and the laughter and the support of the people are gone. There she stands at the foot of the Cross, love still blossoming in her heart.

We learn a lot about love from our mothers.  Jesus would learn about love – not only through our Heavenly Father’s Spirit – but also at his mother’s knee From Mary the Rose – Jesus was much indebted…perhaps more than we would credit him for.

And his too was a love that never died just as Mary’s before him.  Love does indeed conquer all.  Love never gives up.

Let me finish with two different pieces of verse.

The first a stanza from a song which was in a movie called ‘The Rose’   It’s talking about love of a different kind, but we may use it for our own purposes here:

“When the night has been too lonely

And the road has been too long;

When you think that love is only

For the lucky and for the strong –

Just remember in the winter

Far beneath the bitter snows

Lies the seed that with the sun’s love

In the spring becomes the rose”

And this – a 16th Century carol:

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming

From tender stem hath sprung!

Of Jesus’ lineage coming

As men of old have sung.

It came a flower-et bright

Amid the cold of winter

When half spent was the night

The Rose    Love It may seemed buried and dead   But the seed is always there, ready to burst forth in blossom, in all its glory.   And after every Good Friday comes Easter morn.


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Why “Good” Friday?

If Good Friday is the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified, why is it named “Good”? 


Good Friday is called good only in English. In its entry on Good Friday, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes that:


The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from “God’s Friday” (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not specially English. Sometimes, too, the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons; so today in Denmark.

If Good Friday were called good because English adopted the German phrase, then we would expect Gute Freitag to be the common German name for Good Friday, but it is not. Instead, Germans refer to Good Friday as Karfreitag—that is, Sorrowful or Suffering Friday—in German.

So, in the end, the historical origins of why Good Friday is called Good Friday remain unclear, but the theological reason is very likely: Good Friday is good because the death of Christ, as terrible as it was, led to the Resurrection on Easter Day, which brought new life to those who believe.

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Good Friday + Three

Good Friday + Three

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March 29, 2013 · 11:25