Good Friday was a day of heightened – and mixed – emotions. It began with an email from Andrew’s school about the irrational act of a disturbed man that some of the students observed. In the early evening, Candice and I helped Andrew and Claire’s youth group prepare sandwiches and meals for Grate Patrol. And while they delivered the sandwiches to the homeless throughout Washington, Candice and I closed out the day with the powerful Good Friday meditation at the National Cathedral.
We’ve been around the Washington National Cathedral for years, but I only discovered this Good Friday service a couple of years ago. It quickly became my favorite.
Held in the St. Joseph of Arimethea chapel (photo) – the most appropriate of spaces – the service showcases all that is wonderful about the Cathedral. The stone and marble combine with the vaults and intimate space to send the music on a magical journey to your ears. And make no mistake – this is a service made for music.
A hauntingly beautiful cello solo – Candice described it as “moaning” – began the service. Then the first of several Taize chants filled the room. Cathedral Director of Music Michael McCarthy’s arrangement of the Troparian was stunning in both its passion and complexity.
When he saw that the sun had hidden its rays, and that the veil of the Temple was rent as the Savior died, Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate, pleaded with him, and cried out: Give me the Stranger who since his youth had wandered as a stranger. Give me that Stranger killed in hatred by his kindred as a stranger. Give me that Stranger upon whom I look with wonder, seeing Him a guest of Death….
Mike had the choir repeating the Give me a stranger figure, while a beautiful baritone voice carried the story forward.
Give me the stranger whom envious people estranged from the world.
While the service could have ended on that emotional note, it continued with a meditation, more chants, and then lighting of candles and personal prayer.
A beautiful time for reflection and rest.
More to come…