Good Friday liturgy is always a strangely spare event in a sacramental church. How often do we gather and not celebrate communion together? And where is the colour, the candles and incense, the pieces of visual art that usually anchor us? Gone. Tucked away on Maundy Thursday, and left there until Easter Day.
Even our music tends to be ever so spare, matching the hard character of the words we recite back and forth to each other in this liturgy. He died? And we are part of that? From a distance of 2000 years, somehow I am complicit?
This year, for the third year in a row, Alana Levandoski joined us to offer music. She led us in singing the trisagion (‘Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One… have mercy on us’) and the first three verses of that incredibly poignant hymn, “Go to Dark Gethsemane.” In between, she punctuated our reflections with two original songs, offered up with only the most basic of accompaniment.
I want to offer you the words from one of Alana’s songs, though without the hauntingly spare piano accompaniment and her extraordinary voice, it seems a thin offering. The song is called “There’s No Way out of Here,” and I regret that it isn’t recorded anywhere. At least not yet.
Its over now We are lost In a desert without tears Guess it wasn’t What we thought Wish we could turn back the years
But there’s no way out of here There’s no way out of here There’s no way out of here
Its over now So say good-bye But our mouths can’t shape the words Shut up your doors Don’t even try ‘Cause no matter what you heard
There’s no way out of here There’s no way out of here There’s no way out of here
Come back, please, come back Wake up, please, wake up
There’s no way out of here There’s no way out of here There’s no way out of here (copyright 2010, Alana Levandoski)
We sat and listened as she sang that to us, right after we’d prayed the 22nd psalm together and then had heard W.H. Auden’s startling poem “Funeral Blues” read aloud. It was not easy. Good, but not easy.
Late last night, Rudy Regehr sent me a poem he’d just written; a kind of response to the afternoon’s liturgy. You should read it. Read it, and then maybe go and write something of your own. But do that before tomorrow morning, because tomorrow we move into celebration mode… and you know, the resurrection celebration only makes real sense if you’ve sat for a while with the loss.“I Played My Part – reflections on Good Friday” The church bell sounds The faithful the crowd As we sing the first song Friday’s reality becomes strong
Reluctant I live the memory “Crucify!” the cry that came from me We demanded the blood of an innocent Ironic King, sacrifice, the Son God sent
And today I am reminded What my complicitness provided That on skull hill I made my choice But in two days I will rejoice
Now come, and join us Sunday night at 7:00.