Witvliet on Good Friday Services

Excellent thoughts from John Witvliet at Christianity Today in A Crescendo of Wonder: Why Good Friday services are not designed to be funerals for Jesus or exercises in guilt.

Contrary to rumor, the church’s observance of Good Friday, which is often accompanied by a decrescendo of light, is not primarily designed to induce a crescendo of guilt. You and I may have a lot of that to deal with—and dealing with it may be a very redemptive thing. But make no mistake: We gather on Good Friday not to wallow in guilt, but to announce that sin and guilt have been atoned for, conquered, healed, addressed, dealt with once and for all, in heaven and on earth through the blood of the cross.

Nor is this decrescendo of light designed to generate a crescendo of sadness. True enough, the story is filled with sorrow and shame and agony. Indispensably so. But this is no funeral for Jesus. We know how the story turns out. We live in Easter hope 365 days a year, and the story we tell today is worth telling because it is an act in the Easter drama.

But why then the darkness and the shadows and the solemnity?

In world that is starved for joyful solemnity, in a church that is definitely starved for joyful solemnity, in a frantically busy academic community that is parched for serene wonder, the darkness and shadows help us do some serious beholding—as in “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This decrescendo of light is an invitation to a crescendo of wonder.