Rick Becker | April 17, 2017
Today should be different.
Such were my sentiments on a Good Friday long ago in Seattle, Washington. I was studying theology at Seattle Pacific University, a Free Methodist institution, and I was ever so gradually coming to appreciate the liturgical rhythms of the ancient church calendar.
Growing up evangelical, I had a decent appreciation of the importance of Easter observances — the dressing up, the alleluias and triumphant hymnody, the marking of that one day as a ritual zenith and a new beginning. Even the bunnies and eggs, as signs of fertility and new life, made sense to me.
Once in college, though, I couldn’t help noticing a deficit in my experience: The Easter observances I’d grown up with seemed imbalanced, incomplete without some kind of commemoration of what preceded it. If we’re going to celebrate Easter Sunday, my thinking went, shouldn’t we also mourn Good Friday, the day of Christ’s crucifixion?
My years in Seattle required Easters spent away from family — the trip home to Colorado far too long to make by car, and airfare out of my price range — so I was free to experiment, and it was during my junior year that I decided to do something different on Good Friday. There was a chapel tucked away in SPU’s Alexander Hall — stained glass, cozy, with seating for maybe a couple dozen. It was quiet and lonely, bathed in colored light: Just the place to attempt a makeshift Good Friday observance. I camped out there that day, immersed in thought and struggling to pray.
The isolation, however, was stifling. It seemed like a devotional exercise that begged for communal expression. Hence, the next year, my last in Seattle, I resolved to join with others in marking the crucifixion. I’ll bet Catholics do something that day, I thought, and I consulted a Yellow Pages to find a Catholic parish near campus. St. Margaret of Scotland, as it turned out.