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Come let us mourn and lament the death of the Christ. The Holy One appeared and humanity crucified Him. Re-live the experience at The Good Shepherd Orthodox Church. May we never forget.
Matins and Lamentations — Friday 7:30 pm
Join us on the evening of Great and Holy Friday for the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday in anticipation followed by the Lamentations at the Tomb.
Upon entering the darkened chapel, the flower-covered tomb or sepulchre (Arabic; Naj) is placed before the iconostasis. Inside it is the Epitaphios, an icon bearing the image of the dead body of Christ.
You will be handed a candle and the only light in the chapel will be candlelight until the Gospel is read.
The themes of the six psalms read at the start of the service set the scene: help for the afflicted; a psalm of repentance; friendship in God; the darkness of death; praise for mercy and angelic hosts; and waiting in darkness for the light.
Here is a taste of the congregation’s lamentation for the crucified Christ during this service.
In a grave, they laid You, O my life and my Christ; and the armies of the angels were so amazed; as they sang the praise of Your submissive love.
Now we magnify You O Lord, Jesus our King; and we venerate Your Passion and burial; for by this have You delivered us from death.
Right it is indeed, Life bestowing Lord to magnify You; for upon the Cross were Your hands out-spread; and the strength of our dread foe have You destroyed.
Right it is indeed, Maker of all things to magnify You; for by Your dear Passion have we attained victory; over the flesh and rescue from decay.
I am rent with grief, and my heart with woe is crushed and broken; as I see them slay You with doom unjust…
— The Lamentations, selections from the 1st and 2nd stanzas
We leave this night with the stone having sealed the tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ and a guard being left outside the tomb.
The people come forward at the end of the service, venerate the Epitaphios and receive a flower from the priest.
We wait in hope that our journey to joy will indeed be so at Pascha.
On Great and Holy Friday the Orthodox Church commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. This is the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins. This commemoration begins on Thursday evening with the Matins of Holy Friday and concludes with a Vespers on Friday afternoon that observes the taking down of Christ from the Cross and the placement of His body in the tomb.
On this day we commemorate the sufferings of Christ: the mockery, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nails, the thirst, the vinegar and gall, the cry of desolation, and all the Saviour endured on the Cross.
The day of Christ's death is the day of sin. The sin which polluted God's creation from the breaking dawn of time reached its frightful climax on the hill of Golgotha. There, sin and evil, destruction and death came into their own. Ungodly men had Him nailed to the Cross, in order to destroy Him. However, His death condemned irrevocably the fallen world by revealing its true and abnormal nature.
In Christ, Who is the New Adam, there is no sin. And, therefore, there is no death. He accepted death because He assumed the whole tragedy of our life. He chose to pour His life into death, in order to destroy it; and in order to break the hold of evil. His death is the final and ultimate revelation of His perfect obedience and love. He suffered for us the excruciating pain of absolute solitude and alienation - "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me!" (Mark 15:34). Then, He accepted the ultimate horror of death with the agonizing cry, "It is finished" (John 19:30). His cry was at one and the same time an indication that He was in control of His death and that His work of redemption was accomplished, finished, fulfilled. How strange! While our death is radical unfulfillment, His is total fulfilment.
The day of Christ's death has become our true birthday. Within the mystery of Christ dead and resurrected, death acquires positive value. Even if physical, biological death still appears to reign, it is no longer the final stage in a long destructive process. It has become the indispensable doorway, as well as the sure sign of our ultimate Pascha, our passage from death to life, rather than from life to death.
From the beginning, the Church observed an annual commemoration of the decisive and crucial three days of sacred history, i.e., Great Friday, Great Saturday and Pascha. Great Friday and Saturday have been observed as days of deep sorrow and strict fast from Christian antiquity.
Great Friday and Saturday direct our attention to the trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Christ. We are placed within the awesome mystery of the extreme humility of our suffering God. Therefore, these days are at once days of deep gloom as well as watchful expectation. The Author of life is at work transforming death into life: "Come, let us see our Life lying in the tomb, that He may give life to those that in their tombs lie dead" (Sticheron of Great Saturday Matins).
The divine services of Great Friday with the richness of their ample Scripture lessons, superb hymnography and vivid liturgical actions bring the passion of Christ and its cosmic significance into sharp focus. The hymns of the services on this day help us to see how the Church understands and celebrates the awesome mystery of Christ's passion and death.
The Good Shepherd Orthodox Church, meeting at the Uniting Church Hall, 1939 Princes Hwy, Clayton, is a living witness to the power of the Gospel and the fullness of the Christian Faith in modern, secular Australia.
We are a vibrant Australian Christian community under the direction of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand & the Philippines, within the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.
The Church of Antioch is the continuation of the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter (who served as its first bishop) and Paul. The Patriarchate of Antioch is the oldest of the ancient Patriarchates constituting the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
All services are in the English language and are held at the Uniting Church Hall, 1939 Princes Hwy, Clayton, conveniently located in the centre of Melbourne’s residential population.