In one sense, Good Friday is probably considered the darkest day of the Christian year. After all, we commemorate the crucifixion, and the Church traditionally observes the day with a solemn three-hour service, and with fasting. However, it is also part of the “Triduum” or three great days extending from Maundy Thursday to Easter Eve, and is viewed as part of a single service. The previous night ended with the chanting of Psalm 22 during the stripping of the altar, and we hear the same psalm again today. The opening collect mentions the death of Jesus, but also that he “now lives and reigns.” We read the Passion, and we also receive communion from the reserved sacrament which represents the life-giving body and blood of Jesus. I find the day to be a great contrast between life and death, not experienced as a linear continuum, but instead as a wonderful mix of events across time. Even the weather can send a mixed message on Good Friday, since it is often a beautiful spring day! We again leave the church in silence and will gather in silence the next evening for the third great service of the Triduum.
Thinking of Good Friday in this context helps enhance my experience of the mix of emotions I often feel on this holy day.