The Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday has many words: the substantial lessons and of course the proclamation of the entire Passion story from the Gospel of St John, plus a sermon. But It is also a liturgy of movement which dates back to the 4th century when pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem on Good Friday to venerate the precious relic of the True Cross, discovered by the Empress St Helena. About the 7th century the practice of devotions before a wooden cross was introduced into local churches for the benefit of the vast majority of Christians who cannot journey to Jerusalem.
Of course Christians come to the cross, to kneel before it, touch it, even kiss it, not to venerate a piece of wood but to give honour and praise to Christ who died on the cross. For many, coming into contact with the hard wood is a reminder of the reality of what he has done, for us and for our salvation.
So with Christians around the world and across the ages, on this Good Friday in St Thomas Becket Church Hamburg, from the very young to the not so young, the faithful came forward to venerate the cross, each in his or her own way, according to their devotional instinct. It was a dignified, loving, unhurried and prayerful procession of God's people, sustained by the choir and congregational singing of 5 of our best known passiontide hymns.
O Tree of beauty, tree most fair,
Ordained those holy limbs to bear:
Gone is thy shame, each crimsoned bough
Proclaims the King of Glory now.