On April 30, on the Holy and Great Friday we had two special services in our parish temple. This day is the most sorrowful day in Christian calendar. On Holy Friday we commemorate crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, His death on the Cross, as well as His burial. St. George Church’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served Vespers with the procession of the Shroud at 4:00 PM.
After the Scripture readings concluded with the Gospel lesson about the Holy Passions of Christ the Rector preached the following homily:
“This day called Good Friday, or, as it is written in our calendars and books, Holy and Great Friday, – this day is the day of universal sorrow. Today we remember how our Lord Jesus Christ was condemned to death, how He was crucified and how He died on the Cross”.
“The Gospel reading told us that story in details. Some of us may say that if we were there, near Christ in Jerusalem, we would never join those who condemned and crucified Him. But let us think about that and let us be honest: it’s not just those people, namely the Jews, crucified Christ. He was crucified by human sin, by the evil in the hearts of men. As we were saying two days ago, on Great Wednesday, that every person is capable of being like Judas who betrayed Christ, we may say today that everyone is capable of crucifying Christ”.
““God so loved the world…” - says the Gospel (Jn. 3, 16). Yes, God loved the world He created and God loved the human kind. And He willingly accepted death on the Cross for the human kind. All of us are involved in God’s love: God loves all of us and each one of us. But jus as we are personally involved in God’s love, so we are personally involved in His crucifixion. If anyone says, “I am not like those who crucified Him”, we are forgetting that “they” did not crucify Him, sin did, human evil did. “They” were our representatives, our ambassadors, that day at the court of Satan. Our sin empowered them with the right to crucify. We are personally involved in God’s crucifixion, as well as in His love”.
“Today we are not merely acting out the last events in the life of Jesus during our Good Friday services in the Church. The actual events are made present again mystically by the Holy Spirit, so that we may participate in them. Today we are present at Golgotha, at the very place where the body of Jesus was nailed to the Cross. We are present when the body was removed from the Cross. Tonight we will be present before the Tomb of Christ as we sing the praises of His death. We are literally immersed into the love and passion of Christ by all today’s events. We should experience each nail, each lash, each cry, each thorn. God works on us every year through the events of Holy Week, to awaken us, to effect a change on us, to evoke a response from us, to lead us to repentance, to help us make the sacrifice of Jesus the center of our life. How many Good Fridays have to go by before we come to experience personally God’s love for us? How many times Christ have to die before we come to our senses and realize that life is to be lived in Christ and for Christ?”
“Years ago instead of delivering a sermon on Good Friday, a preacher went to the altar. Silently he took a candle and held it up to crucifix, to the thorn-covered head, to the feet locked with nail, to the wounded side and the rent hands. Then he turned to the people and said, “This is what God has done for you!” And we may add, “This is what we, the people, have done for God!””
““God so loved the world…”. Can you be indifferent to that? Can you shrug your shoulders at that? Can you say you are not personally involved? You can. But then you should remember the words of the Scripture: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebr. 2, 3).”
At the end of this service holy Shroud had been solemnly carried out from the altar to the middle of the church and placed there for veneration.
At 7:00 PM the Rector celebrated Matins on the Lord’s Tomb. Most of this service was performed before the Shroud placed in the middle of the church. After the Great Doxologion the Rector, altar servers and parishioners performed the procession around the church. The priest carried the holy Shroud resembling burial of the Lord.