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The importance and promise of Good Friday

Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph, the father of Jesus, lay him in the tomb after the crucifixion on Good Friday. Mary, Jesus's mother, watches in the opening of the tomb. Above Mary is an Easter egg to remind us all of what is to come. Flickr Photo by Don McCullough

The importance and promise of Good Friday


By Martin Elfert

A number of years ago, I went to a lecture about the most important day of the church year.

That day, of course, is…

Well, here is the challenge. Because what I learned during the lecture was that, across Christian history, across the Christian movement right now, there was not and is not a single answer to that question. Many of us in the West in 2017 would rank Christmas and Easter pretty high on our lists. (Some of us would put the Blessing of the Animals into our Top Five.) But the lecturer told us about times and places in Christianity in which folks might have said that the defining day of our faith was Pentecost or the Transfiguration or the Ascension or today:

Good Friday.

I’m intrigued by that last possibility. By the possibility that the most important thing to know about Jesus is what we find out when we stand at the foot of the cross.

Good Friday says that God knows firsthand what it is to wait, what it is to suffer, what it is to die.

Good Friday is the antidote to the anxious possibility that God is distant or indifferent.

Good Friday is the promise that, no matter what, we can turn to God with confidence and say: You know what this is like.

What could be more important than that?

Martin Elfert

About Martin Elfert

The Rev. Martin Elfert is an immigrant to the Christian faith. After the birth of his first child, he began to wonder about the ways in which God was at work in his life and in the world. In response to this wondering, he joined Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he and his new son were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005 and where the community encouraged him to seek ordination. Martin served on the staff of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Wash. from 2011-2015. He is now the rector of Grace Memorial Episcopal Church in Portland, Oreg.

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