Why do we call this Friday “Good”?

Although Catholics and Protestants in the past have followed somewhat different forms, in both camps the observances have been such as to cause people to ask, “Then why do we call this Friday ‘good’?” Emphasis has been on the seemingly senseless suffering of Jesus rather than on the purposeful humiliation of God through which redemption comes. In other words, we have failed once again to read the sacred story backward. Friday has been observed as if Sunday had never come.

Good Friday can and should proclaim divine purpose as paramount. Indeed, the term “Good Friday” may be a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday.”

This day is good precisely because God was in control at Calvary. The crucifixion of Jesus was not some bad deal that God had to try to make the best of; it was a working out of divine intention with a view to the salvation of an otherwise doomed creation.

—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 96

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Exult!

Exult, O morning stars aflame!
with all the works of God proclaim
the Child of Bethlehem who came
for love and love alone.

Come earth and air and sky and sea,
bear witness to His deity
who lived, the Man of Galilee,
for love and love alone.

By faith behold the Crucified,
His arms of mercy open wide,
the Lamb of Calvary, who died
for love and love alone.

Let every eye His glories see,
who was, and is, and is to be;
who reigns as Christ in Majesty
for love and love alone.

* (pause) *

O world, by strife and sorrow torn,
new hope is yours on Christmas morn,
the Prince of Peace a child is born,
for love and love alone.

—Timothy Dudley-Smith, Great Is the Glory: 36 New Hymns written between
1993 & 1996 (Hope Publishing Company)

Love with Feet

Evangelicals often sing contemporary songs and choruses that celebrate the love of God but without reference to how God has shown this love in time and space. Subjective sentimental lyrics that reflect a generic affection toward a loving divine being are inappropriate for Christian worship. Hymns and songs that are purely subjective reflections of an undefined, disembodied divine affection unattached from the historical reality of the faith should be eliminated or at least minimized and given context in some way. 

—Robbie F. Castleman, Story Shaped Worship: Following Patterns from the Bible and History, 198.

Martin Luther’s Easter Hymn

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands,
And brings us life from Heaven.
Wherefore let us joyful be,
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of Alleluia!

No son of man could conquer Death,
Such mischief sin had wrought us,
For innocence dwelt not on earth,
And therefore Death had brought us
Into thralldom from of old
And ever grew more strong and bold
And kept us in his bondage.

But Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,
To our low state descended,
The cause of Death He has undone,
His power forever ended,
Ruined all his right and claim
And left him nothing but the name,
His sting is lost forever.

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life;
The reign of death was ended.
Stripped of power, no more it reigns,
An empty form alone remains
Death’s sting is lost forever!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, Death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us.

So let us keep the festival
Whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended!

Then let us feast this Easter day
On the true Bread of Heaven;
The Word of grace hath purged away
The old and wicked leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed;
He is our Meat and Drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other!

—Martin Luther (1524), translated Richard Massie (1854)

(may be sung to the hymn tune MIT FREUDEN ZART [“Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”])