I found myself in the position, recently, of explaining Holy Week to someone who does not believe. Perhaps a bit too earnestly, I tried to describe what happens: The triumph of Palm Sunday with its awful portent, the congregation taking the part of Christ’s accusers, facing-whether we want to or not–our own sins; the washing of the feet, and the ritual vigil, kept with Christ throughout the night on Maundy Thursday. On Friday, the awful full-eyed clarity of the torture and agony of the crucifixion, and then at last, the breath of life gone, the Pascal candle extinguished, the altar stripped, and the deep internal stillness of grief hanging over the congregants.
We are all diminished by every death. But this one death is ours and His. The fear of it lingers in our hearts as we wait in hope.
It is Good Friday. And the earth stands still.