Good Friday is our most solemn day of the church year. It is the day that we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and death on the cross.
Good Friday is one of the oldest days of remembrance in the Christian church. The origins can be traced back to Jerusalem during the 4th century. An account is given by a pilgrim named Egeria who traveled to Jerusalem during Holy Week. The actual cross that Christ was crucified on was processed through the streets to Golgotha and then venerated (honored greatly) by the followers of Christ.
As Christians, Good Friday is our most sorrowful day. On this day, we remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus, our Lord. The mood is somber as we silently reflect upon the last hours of Our Lord’s life.
O ye people who pass by on your journey, behold and see,
Look upon me:
Could there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow?
Behold and see, all ye people come, give heed,
And consider my grief and sorrow.
-O Vos Omnes by Tomas Luis de Victoria
On Good Friday, we honor the Cross and recognize that we have been given the gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Good Friday is a day filled with silence, reflection, and simplicity. It is a time to reflect on the suffering and death of Christ and what that means in our lives.
May we never forget all that Jesus was willing to suffer so that we might live eternally with Him!
Ways to Celebrate Good Friday
If you can, attend the Good Friday service at your church. Services are usually held at midday, the hour that Jesus was crucified. If your family cannot attend the service, have a devotional reading and prayer reflecting on the sufferings of Christ.
Observe a fast on this day. This is a major fast day for the Church. Traditionally, no meat or alcohol is consumed. Many choose to observe a complete fast from all food and drink, except water. If a complete fast cannot be observed, try to eat very small and bland meals that require no cooking. In Germany, a traditional Good Friday meal is big, soft pretzels and hard-boiled eggs. Traditionally, Hot Cross Buns may be eaten after the Good Friday service. Hot Cross Buns originated at Saint Alban’s Abbey in 1361. The buns were distributed by the monks to the poor. They are cut or iced with the sign of the cross and are traditional fare on Good Friday.
Observe intentional silence between the hours of 12 - 3 pm. These are the hours of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. It might be hard for children to be quiet for so long. Give them activities that will help them to stay calm and quiet. Have your children build a garden of Joseph of Arimathea in the backyard. Just like Joseph of Arimathea provided his tomb for Jesus, have your children make a tomb. They can construct it with sticks, leaves, and dirt, making sure to build a tomb with a large opening to roll a stone across or a cardboard disk across.
Walk the Stations of the Cross with your family. Many churches have the Stations of the Cross set up around the church property for you to walk as a devotion. Some churches offer a Stations of the Cross service on this day. If you cannot physically walk the Stations, read the account of the Passion of Jesus found in John 18:1-19:42 with your children. Have your children draw the Stations of the Cross.
Set the day's tone by trying to make Good Friday a day with no TV, video games, music, computer, or other modern distractions at home or in the car to create a solemn atmosphere. (Remember to warn your children the day before of what you are planning to do so they will be prepared!)
Watch a film about Jesus as a family and listen to recordings of sacred music.
Put a large simple cross made of sticks on your front door or black crepe. Shroud all of your crosses in black fabric.
Have everyone wear black for the day. Explain to your children that we are in deep mourning as we remember Christ’s suffering and death.
At the end of the day, make a shrine for a cross by laying it on a pillow. Gather around the cross with your family and discuss why Christ died for us and what it means for us that he did.
Family Devotion for Good Friday
Begin your devotion time with the following invitation to prayer:
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Leader: Let us pray.
Great God, look down upon your family with mercy: a family Jesus loved so much that he was willing to be betrayed and suffer death upon the cross. Help us give ourselves to you as freely as you gave yourself. We pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
Read John 18:1-19:42
Discuss. Why was it important that Jesus suffer and die? Jesus obeyed God, even to suffering and death. Through Jesus’ obedience, he made the offering to God that we could not make; in him, we are freed from the power of sin and death and brought back to God.
2) What do we mean when we say that Jesus descended to the dead? We mean that Jesus went to everyone that had died before him and offered them freedom from the power of evil, sin, and death (redemption).
Close with a prayer thanking God for his goodness and asking for his guidance and protection for you and all who are in any need or trouble. End your devotion by saying the Lord’s Prayer together.
Have a blessed Good Friday!