Old Testament: Exodus 33:11-23; Job 42:12-17; Isaiah 52:13-54:1
Epistle: Corinthians 1: 18-2:2
Gospel: Matthew 27:1-38; Luke 23:39-43; Matthew 27:39-54;
John 19:31-37; Matthew 27:55-61
Stichera from Vespers (Tone 6)
Today the Master of creation stands before Pilate. Today the
Maker of all things is given up to the cross, and of His own will He is
led as a lamb to the slaughter.
He who sent manna in the wilderness is transfixed with nails. His side is pierced, and a sponge with vinegar touches His lips.
The Deliverer of the world is struck on the face, and the Creator of all is mocked by His own servants.
How great is the Master's love for mankind! For those who
crucified Him, He prayed to His Father, saying: "Forgive them this sin,
for in their wickedness they know not what they do."
Down from the Tree Joseph of Arimathea took You dead, who are
the Life of all, and he wrapped You, 0 Christ, in a linen cloth with
spices. Moved in his heart by love, he kissed Your most pure body with
his lips; yet, drawing back in fear, he cried to You rejoicing: "Glory
to Your condescension, 0 You who loves mankind."
The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Your most pure Body
from the tree, wrapped it in fine linens, and anointed it with spices,
and placed it in a new tomb.
The angel came to the myrrh-bearing women at the tomb and
said: "Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a
stranger to corruption."
Explanation of the Feast
On the afternoon of Good Friday, we conduct the service of
the Great Vespers with great solemnity. This Vesper service concludes
the remembrance of the events of the Lord's passion, and leads us
towards watchful expectation as we contemplate the mystery of the Lord's
descent into Hades, the theme of Great Saturday.
In popular language the Vesper Service of Great Friday is
often called the Apokathelosis, a name derived from the liturgical
reenactment of the deposition of Christ from the Cross. The service is
characterized by two dramatic liturgical actions: The Deposition or
Apokathelosis (literally the Un-nailing); and the Procession of the
Epitaphios (the icon depicting the burial of Christ encased within a
large embroidered cloth.)
Try your best to attend all of the services today. In most
cases school-age children are home or can be taken out of school early
for the afternoon service.