Good Friday at Duke Chapel
On a cool, windy Good Friday, the campus around Duke Chapel was bustling with the sounds of students walking to class, birds chirping from the magnolia trees and the buzzing of construction at the Rubenstein Library. A construction crane arm swung high above a crowd of people gathered on the chapel quad below.
More than 100 people came to observe the Stations of the Cross, a service held on Good Friday, the day Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified.
Fourteen stations represent 14 moments during Jesus’ walk to the cross and his death. Rev. Meghan Feldmeyer and Rev. Bruce Puckett spoke and prayed as they moved to different spots around the quad. Banners displayed silhouettes of scenes at each station, and actors created a tableau of each station. Don Eagle played the trumpet between each one.
Those who attended recited together words at each station, like Station 4: Jesus Meets His Mother on the Way.
“When Jesus came to Jerusalem the first time, Simeon had told Mary a sword would pierce her soul. Now those words had come true,” they said in unison, an adaptation of the New Testament book of Luke 2:34-35a.
Feldmeyer, director of worship at Duke Chapel, prayed to God that “through your Holy Spirit, be with those who see their child hated, suffering or dead.”
At Station 9: Jesus Falls for the Third Time, Puckett prayed that “no matter how low we go,” they need only to look to one side to see Jesus there, too.
After the stations, congregants proceeded into Duke Chapel for a worship service.
Ellen Davis, the Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School, preached from the day’s Old Testament reading in Lamentations.
The person lamenting in that passage is an anonymous Jewish man who survived the destruction of Jerusalem about six centuries before Christ, Davis said. In Lamentations, the man asks, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”
Davis framed the question in a Good Friday context, to hear Jesus pose the same question from the cross. She said that Good Friday this year occurs in the last week of class for the spring semester at Duke, a busy time of year. “And here is Jesus in the midst of us, mounted on the cross, a ghastly Roman spectacle,” she said. Right now, she preached at about half past noon Friday, the dying Jesus has a question for them: “Is it nothing to us, this suffering of mine?”
She said the answer is ‘yes’ to the question: “Is there any suffering like my suffering?” Few have witnessed executions or death by torture, Davis said, but know that they happen every day.
“The meaning of the cross is that Jesus shares our suffering fully,” she said.
Davis said that religious people don’t like to suggest that God has a part in their suffering.
“Suffering is one of the deepest mysteries of life with God,” she said.
Rev. Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, prayed that, “when we survey the cross we remember all who suffer.”
He prayed for the destitute, oppressed, hungry, homeless, sorrowful, prisoners, captives, those in mortal danger and those crushed by crosses they bear.
“May we be yours forever and reveal our love for you with love of neighbor,” Powery prayed.
Powery will preach at Duke Chapel worship services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday, which is Easter. A Catholic vigil Mass will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday [today] at Duke Chapel. An Easter sunrise service will be held in Duke Gardens on the South Lawn at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, with Rev. Carol Gregg preaching.