At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”     Mark 15:33-34 (NIV)

Today goes by many names. In Greek liturgy it is called he hagia kai megale paraskeue. The Romance languages give it a more reverent name Holy Friday while the Germans refer to it as Sorrowful Friday Charfreitag.

A 1983 article in the highly prestigious science journal Nature used a combination of the biblical and Julian calendars as well as knowledge of the moon phases and lunar eclipses to calculate that the original Good Friday likely occurred on April 3, 33 AD/CE.

Altars were stripped bare or covered in black last night.   Services are solemn and darkened. The LCMS congregation where I grew up had a Tenebrae service where one by one, the candles are extinguished and the sanctuary is filled with darkness. The service was stark, and at the end of the readings, the Bible is slammed shut to signify the moment of death. My undergraduate university Valparaiso has a similarly somber service where the Christus Rex was draped in black. The deafening silence in the Chapel of the Resurrection for quiet contemplation was always such a stark contrast to the cacophony of voices of students, family, faculty and community after the joyous celebrations of the chapel’s Easter Celebration.

Good Friday is a quiet time to mourn the death of Christ and the perceived absence of God through this weekend. He was silent as Christ died, and even his own son felt abandoned.

But even with the stark and stripped imagery, God has never left us. The Easter Vigil that many churches will observe tomorrow night will be a time to renew baptismal promises. A candle will be lit to remind us that we are not alone.

During this time of reflection, I think the perfect symmetry to the passage above from Mark is Psalm 46:10:

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

I cannot read ancient Hebrew, but if you look at the Hebrew linguistics of the edict Be Still, a better translation may be Cause yourselves to let go or Let yourselves become weak. In other words: surrender.

So, yes, surrender and trust that regardless of how dark today–or life for that matter–may feel that the candle of faith still burns this weekend, that though Christ was crucified, died and was buried, he is still very much with us. Trust yourself to let go and know that there is someone to catch you.

An author, whose name complete escapes me right now, took Psalm 46:10 and created this:

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know

Be still


Not a bad way to approach this weekend.