Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week are called the “Triduum Sacrum,” or “Sacred Three Days.” The Triduum liturgies serve as one extended service that allows us to meditate in various ways on the final events of Jesus’ life and death in preparation for celebrating his resurrection. Here, the Rev. Canon John E. Kitagawa, Rector, explains why we do what we do on Good Friday, and Ms. Sandralyn Pierce, Director of Children and Family Ministries, describes the Children’s Way of the Cross.
Fundamental to Christian belief is the idea that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Humankind has struggled with the meaning of this revelation ever since. Of course, discerning who Jesus was is more than an intellectual and academic exercise. The deeper questions revolve around what it means to be in relationship to Jesus and to be a disciple and among his beloved community.
During the Triduum, we have the opportunity to deepen our understanding and appreciation of Christ’s co-mingled nature for our lives through the storytelling of the evangelists, the theologies of sacred writers, and the liturgical traditions formed by generations of faithful believers. Perhaps more than other service of the year, St. Philip’s Three-hour Good Friday Liturgy intertwines liturgical words and liturgical movements such as the Veneration of the Cross, instrumental and vocal music and prayers, sensory experience (such as tasting the vinegar chalice and singing hymns), and the tactile and tasteful experience of bread and wine with the experience of hearing seven priests offer spiritual reflections on the seven traditional sayings of Jesus from the cross. It is a service in which the protestant emphasis on the Word and the Catholic emphasis on Sacrament and Ritual both compete and compliment.
We develop this service in the hope that participants will find themselves in what the Celts call the “thin” places where today’s realities are kissed and illumined by the kingdom of God which seems so very present.
Three hours is a long time, but stay for as long as your life permits. Sometimes it takes a while to let go of other things in order to allow oneself to be washed by successive waves of song and prayer, spoken reflections and instrumental music. Whenever you get up to leave, don’t brush yourself off. See what the tide—what God—has gifted you with. (The Good Friday “Seven Last Words” service takes place from noon to 3 p.m., the traditional hours of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. There is also a simple Good Friday liturgy at 7 p.m.)
—The Rev. Canon John E. Kitagawa, Rector
The Way (or “Stations”) of the Cross is a devotional service of prayer and meditation dating from the early centuries of the Church. Christian pilgrims journeyed to Jerusalem during Holy Week and there visited the shrines associated with the events of this week. On Good Friday they traced the steps of Jesus on the sorrowful route to Calvary. The same devotions came to be practiced by Christians all over Europe who could not make the long trip to the Holy Land. They erected “stations” in or around their parish churches and meditated on them in succession. What matters most in the Stations of the Cross is to follow Jesus Christ in his passion and to see ourselves mirrored in him. To face life’s dark side in ourselves and in our world, we need images of hope. By accompanying him on the Way of the Cross, we gain his courageous patience and learn to trust in God. At St. Philip’s, we have set up nine interactive stations that we hope will help children to experience Good Friday in a way that will better enable them to live humble, sacrificial, joyful lives in the Lord’s service. (The Children’s Way of the Cross service begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Children’s Center Courtyard.)
—Ms. Sandralyn Pierce, Director of Children and Family Ministries