Good Friday, German Style

What a shocking difference! No it is not that the liturgical garb is lederhosen, rather it is a solemnity that permeates everything.

Good Friday in Victoria might have a few shops closed, but to the observer there is little difference from any other day.  In Germany, at least in the village, we receive a small local newspaper that tells us of events and small village news items (like someone is stealing flowers from the cemetery).  This week there contains a notice from the village office that there are things one should not be doing (verboten) on Good Friday.  The list contains such things as loud music, parties, sports, games, [looking gleeful] – sorry that was my own addition.

The weather is grey.  The wind forces rain agains the window in howling sheets every once in a while.  Most astonishing is the traffic.  On our street we normally get cars going past, along with pedestrians and bicyclists; there has even been a nordic walking group on occasion.

Today is vastly different.  Only several people have walked past, the third car today (in the afternoon) has driven by, and most of the people who are walking are going to churches nearby as the bells ring out the different worship times.  Good Friday is here.

In the church I am preparing a meditative worship and have been online with friends and colleagues which are also preparing for Good Friday.  The mood of the day for me in Germany has really hit home as it seems most people are participating in some kind of religious activity.  How much the world needs the solemn tone! My impulse is to run around in preparation, yet everything is prepared.  My drive is to do something, anything, yet all has been done.

Eerily, the radio is playing the same music that I have on my computer to listen to in the office: Bach, St. Matthias’ Passion.  The other radio stations have religious reflections on the meaning of Good Friday. On some of the calendars and even some of the radio broadcasts there is talk of Karfrietag. An old high German term roughly translating to mean ‘grief Friday.’

There is a heaviness in the air, yet this heaviness is much needed in a place where behind the scenes people are can work round the clock.  I appreciate the slowing down, the reflection, the grief that permeates the day and is present even in the weather.  Mindful that we all come from places of action, we now enter into a time of reflection.

A much needed episode of reflection about our own mortality, our own pace, our own demands and expectations.  We hang these things on a cross.  Jesus’ burden is much greater than I have realized.

2 thoughts on “Good Friday, German Style

  1. Amanda Sandberg

    Gave me chills reading. Here in Victoria it is beatifully sunny…and we went to the store to grab a ham for our Easter dinner, was impressed that the parking lot was near empty, showing that some are observing this holy day. Then, like the Victoria and its Citizens you described (us) went to get photos with the The Easter Bunny..oh commercialism, consumerism, materialism…..why cant we get back to this quaint village image that Chris has described.


  2. Neil Munro

    So pleased to hear of the observation of Easter events in Germany, it is so secular here. Hard to find any special music recognizing this significant event. Finally found some appropriate music on PBS, but not for very long. I enjoy your observations on your new life in Germany sounds like the right move to me. Happy Easter Chris and to your family.


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