Good Friday, April 2, 2021, was the second Celebration of Our Lord's Passion at Christ Church Cathedral in as many years without a congregation present. In April of 2020, online worship was a relatively new concept for Anglicans and CCC's "virtual" offering was a produced liturgy assembled prior to the broadcast time of 3pm on the day.
Times have changed and the CCC staff have honed their skills and upgraded their equipment to be able to livestream liturgies taking place in the sanctuary in real time. Anyone who has observed this growth over the past months will happily admit that they are getting better and better.
For 2021, the liturgy chosen was a Ministry of the Word which means there would not be an eucharistic component. The service took place in the west transept of the nave underneath the iconic Crucifixion Window.
Those participating in the liturgy included: Lay Reader, Hope Sealy; Deacon, the Reverend Alisdair Smith; Liturgical Assistant/Crucifer, Vincent Carey; Dean of the Cathedral, who was the presider for the liturgy, the Very Reverend Chris Pappas, preacher, Bishop John Stephens; Cathedral Director of Music, Rupert Lang with an SATB quartet of members of Cathedral Choir; and soloist, Marcus Mosely. Everyone present took part in the reading of the Passion According to John, with Dean Pappas, Bishop Stephens and Deacon Smith taking the major roles.
At the conclusion of the Gospel, Bishop Stephens extinguished the flame of the Presence Candle and offered a homily.
In the first two paragraphs of the homily, the bishop unpacked the events of the Passion story with a focus on Silence.
In the third paragraph he said:
"Silence is the only response to wonder how God is working in this. To consider how God continues to work in us. Silence to let other words flood in to continue to deepen our consideration and spiritual wrestling, like the final three words that Jesus spoke from the cross. It is finished. They are words that sink into our hearts, our souls, our thinking, our meditation. More words to knock us off our comfortable place and invite us to go deeper into our calling, our purpose, our response to God. It is finished he said in agony and seeming conclusion. While we might know that this is not the real conclusion for this day, stay in the silence and feel the sense of conclusion known to those who wrapped the body. Don’t rush ahead to a vigil or the liturgy on Sunday, we need to stay here a while, to spend time with the angst and the emptiness and the grief of this day. We need to stay with it to recognize the link with our own feelings of emptiness, grief and separation from all others. Stay with that silence"
Following the address, the dean and the bishop went to the east side of the sanctuary near the chancel platform and processed the cross from where it was place at the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday liturgy and processed it to the west transept, placed it in a stand and the Meditation of the Cross of Jesus began with the dean saying the words,
This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world.
and everyone answered,
Come let us worship.
As the quartet sang the hymn, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" the two lay people and the deacon knelt or stood in front of the cross while the two priests (dean and bishop) prostrated on either side of the cross.
Following closing prayers, soloist, Marcus Mosely supported by the quartet lead the singing of Rupert Lang's arrangement of "Where You There." As the hymn conluded those participating in the liturgy left in silence and the lights in the sanctuary were dimmed until all was darkness.