One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5
A holiday with a difference
By Roger Childs
For Christians it is the most sacred day of the year, but for the majority of people it’s just another welcome public holiday. However, unlike most of these days, there is no daily paper and most retail outlets are closed.
In America where a higher proportion of the population are church goers compared with New Zealand, there is no nationwide holiday. However in thirteen states most working people have the day off.
In New Zealand it adds a crucial fourth day to the “Easter” weekend and thousands get in their cars or take ferries or planes to Coromandel, Taupo, Queenstown, the Sounds, Waiheke wherever.
A moveable feast
Good Friday is remembered by Christians as the time when Jesus Christ was crucified on Calvary (Golgotha): it is the most solemn day in the church calendar.
But as we all know, there is a different date every year for Easter and of course Good Friday. Way back in 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the Spring equinox.
We’ve just had the equinox when the overhead sun was directly above the equator, and the full moon is in the sky. Easter is nigh.
A day of great religious significance
When I was young, Good Friday was the climax of holy week and was commemorated by all Christian faiths.
Most Anglican parishes featured a three hour service from 12.00 – 3.00pm consisting of a series of short sermons on the passion of Christ, hymns, readings and prayers. Worshipers were free to come and go during the singing of the hymns.
Some of those hymns sung on Good Friday and at other times, are among the most poignant in the rich heritage of sacred Christian music.
~ O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded
~ When I Survey The Wondrous Cross
~ Rock Of Ages
~ Abide With Me
Remembered in art across the centuries
Not surprisingly, the passion of Christ has been a popular subject for artists and sculptors, often patronised by religious leaders, across the ages. In the pantheon of art iconography, the crucifixion is second only to the Madonna and child as a religious subject.
It has been rendered by scores of artists from Giotto di Bondone to Salvador Dali in an amazing range of styles. The Spaniard’s extraordinary foreshortened masterpiece of the crucified Christ is among the most creative.
Athiests, agnostics and many historians question whether it actually happened, as the historical record is vague. However, the Jewish historian Josephus does refer to Christ’s crucifixion in passing. The New Testament gospels record the “events” of that weekend in Palestine in detail, but they were written decades later.
Enjoy the time off
For devout Christians Good Friday (and Easter Day) have huge significance, and although some might question whether the Friday should be a public holiday, the vast majority are happy to have the day off. An issue that does affect everyone, is whether there should be “Easter trading”, and basically it is left to local bodies to decide.
Whatever you do or believe, have a good weekend. On a trip around the Raumati area in 24 degree temperatures this afternoon, we observed plenty of people walking, biking and enjoying the beaches and the splash pad.
While most of us can take the break, we do need to remember the police, ambulance personnel, petrol station staff, nurses, doctors and other people who will be at work