SALT LAKE CITY — The top of a six-foot-tall wooden cross covered in a black cloth stood inside the entrance of the St. Mark's Episcopal Church near noon Friday.
Worshippers were seated in silence in the pews beyond. Another cross at the front of the sanctuary was wrapped in black cloth. Members of the altar party entered the sanctuary and briefly lay on their stomachs in front of the cross, including the Very. Rev. Ray Waldon and the Rt. Rev. Scott Hayashi, Episcopal Bishop of Utah. The rest of the congregation knelt.
"When I return to kneel and stare up at the cross, then I think I'm learning not just only something about God but more than that, something about us. For Jesus reveals not only God. Jesus reveals us as well. Who we are. What we are," Bishop Scott Hayashi said in his remarks.
This was part of the Liturgy of Good Friday, similar to the Passion Liturgy in the Catholic church. To commemorate Good Friday, two days before Easter, Christians worldwide participated in stations and processions of the cross celebrations as well as Passion services and Good Friday Liturgies. During this service, worshipers are invited to venerate a cross by standing, kneeling or kissing the cross.
When the Good Friday Liturgy began, Waldon asked the congregation to consider their answer to the question: "Will you embrace the hard wood of the cross that Jesus embraced?"
Episcopal church member Michael Staley came to the Friday Liturgy as a "reminder that a lot of people live in a place of death and sorrow and that today is about living despite being a broken people," he said. "We're living (in spite) of depression or illness or war or hunger... We can live fully, despite those things."
In the stations of the cross, congregants walk past 14 stations inside a church representing the events of Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion. In addition to this, some also participate in a procession of the cross. A local procession included multiple faiths and stopped at six churches in Salt Lake City Friday evening, beginning at the Cathedral of the Madeleine and ending at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
During the procession of the cross, different people took over carrying a large cross on the trek from station to station. With their actions they indicated their willingness to also carry the cross of Christ.
Part of the meaning behind Good Friday comes from being able to appreciate others' suffering, including the suffering Jesus went through, according to St. Stephen's Episcopal Rev. Matthew Seddon. In this way, an old story becomes new and relevant.
"This is speaking to the people who are still put on a cross day to day in some way, shape or form and to have that brought to your eyes can help you understand the wonder and hope that is given by the fact that that's not the end," he said.
Many Christian churches throughout Salt Lake will have Saturday evening and Sunday morning Easter services. More information about services is available on the webpages of specific congregations.
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