Good Friday

The Day There Was No News, Was Good News

Friday, April 18, 1930 is an interesting little tidbit of history, because of the 8:45pm BBC news cast. The story goes that the voice came over the radio and announced the following newscast, “There is no news.” Then piano music played for the next fifteen minutes. No news. Not a single bit of news.


If you are a Christian church calendar savant, you will know that April 18, 1930 is anything but a “no news” day. It is the day with the best news.

April 18, 1930 was Good Friday.

On the day in the church year when we recall the love of God forgiving the worst humankind had to offer, the BBC said, “There is no news.”

Of course there is no going back to a time when a voice would say, “There is no news.” News organizations fill every moment with a talking head, peddling a politics of grievance, outrage and victimization. However, even on April 18, 1930, one of the largest platforms in the world overlooked that there was in fact GOOD news that very day. It is a shame they missed the story.

Surely today we would not miss the same story. Would we?

An Orthodox Hymn for Good Friday

There is a section of the Good Friday liturgy in the Orthodox Christian tradition called “15th Antiphon from Great and Holy Friday Matins.” The section juxtaposes the higher and lower parts of the life of Christ. It also is sung/chanted in a way that when speaking about the higher aspects, the voice of the priest is higher. Conversely, when speaking of the lower aspects, the voice drops. This is not a hymn in my tradition, but it is a hymn that my tradition can affirm. I hope this hymn/poem might speak to you this Good Friday. If you would like to hear the late Archbishop Job sing/chant this hymn, the video is below or you can follow this link.

“Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on the tree,
The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the Cross with nails.
The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.”

The late Archbishop Job sings the 15th Antiphon at Matins for Great and Holy Friday 2009. This video almost didn't happen. We had wanted to record Vladika singing this antiphon for years, but he often refused to sing it out of humility.

You are Growing or Dying. Shenanigans.

We have all heard this idea that we are either growing or dying. We hear if people are learning a new skill or if they are becoming a “better” person then they are “growing”. We also hear that organizations that rake in profits or create social change are “growing.” If there is a restaurant that has a line out the door then that restaurant is “growing” in their market.

Photo by  Wang Xi  on  Unsplash

Photo by Wang Xi on Unsplash

Conversely, people who are getting older or have stopped learning are thought of as “dying.” Organizations that are not expanding then they are “dying.” Businesses that no longer have that line around the block are “dying.”

Because you are either growing or dying.

The Truth is, nothing is growing OR dying. Everything is growing AND dying at the same time.

Every person, regardless of age or stage, is growing and dying at the same time. The one who is learning a lot may be growing intellectually but they also are experiencing a death of previously understood ideas. The organization that is growing in numbers is also dying to previous ways of doing things. The business that is growing in market share is also dying to the intimacy they had.

Philosophers such as Hannah Arendt describe a “natality.” In addition to how philosophers speak of natalities, we may begin to think of natality as the other side of fatality. Where fatality is about dying, natality is about birth. For every fatality there is a simultaneous natality and for every natality there is a simultaneous fatality.

The question is not are you growing or dying but how are you growing AND dying.

The Church is beginning to embrace the very message that she has proclaimed for 2000 years in that the Church is not dying. It is dying and being born. It is declining and growing. It is contracting and expanding.

Jesus Did Not Die to Forgive You

Just a reminder that Jesus did not die to forgive you. While Jesus did die, and while you are forgiven, the Good News is that one is not contingent upon the other. The Good News is that you are forgiven. Jesus' death is the thing that proclaims this Good News most loudly. 

I love my sons. I don't hug my sons as a condition to love my sons. I hug my sons as a proclamation of my love for them. 

Jesus did not die to forgive you. You are already forgiven. 

Can we accept/receive that Good News or do WE need Jesus to die so we can more easily accept we are forgiven?