The great sacrifice has been offered. Since God the Father does not regard the world as being material or spiritual but sees all creation through His Son, and since mankind fell into the slavery of nature, of that which was corruptible – of death, the Son of God was incarnated and lived an earthly life in human body, only in the end to die a martyr’s death on the cross – so that He may rise, resurrect human nature from the grave, and open the path to eternal life for men.
He suffered crucifixion and yet He was the only One without sin, and He was sent off to the cross with shouts “Crucify him!” Christ was crucified “under Pontius Pilate”, but He is crucified again and again with every sin we ourselves commit. On the occasion of Great Friday the Church marks each moment in the event of salvation of the world with services.
Time of Savior’s arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and His sentencing by archpriests and elders to suffer death is marked with matins. Celebrating the first hour marks time when Savior was on his way to be judged by Pilate; time of His sentencing by Pilate is marked by the third hour; time of His suffering on the cross is remembered by the sixth hour; and taking down of Christ’s body from the cross with evening service (it is then that the Shroud is brought out to the center of the church so that the faithful could venerate the image of the dead Lord depicted on it). On Great Friday hours are being celebrated in following order: first, sixth, ninth, and they are called Imperial Hours since Byzantine emperors always attended them at church.
Shroud is a large rectangular peace of cloth bearing the image of Lord Jesus Christ laid out in His tomb and covered with white burial garments. It also bares the following inscription: “With your body in the tomb, with your soul in Hades as God, in paradise with the thief, and on the throne, oh Christ, You were with Father and the Holy Spirit, fulfilling all, o Infinite One.”
During the evening service on Great Friday the Shroud is brought out of the altar section of the church and laid out on the improvised tomb of Christ where it is to remain until Easter. Ahead of Easter matins it is returned to the altar section and laid out on the altar table itself only to be kept there until the Feast of the Holy Ascension of our Lord. After this Great Feast of our Savior, the Shroud is put away in the church treasury for safe keeping until next Great Friday.
Christians venerate the cross since the event of our Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. It was Christ Himself who, before ascending to Heaven, gave the following command to the Apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …” (Mt. 28.19).
Christians indicate the sign of the cross on their own person with by crossing themselves, using three fingers and saying: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Priests cannot perform any sacred rite without a crucifix being present as one of the sacred objects of the cult. Every bishop has the right to wear a cross hanging on a chain placed around the neck and over the vestments. It is a symbolic seal of faith released from the heart, and a seal of love that every bishop should feel for the cross of Christ and for the crucified Lord.
Serbian Orthodox Church also permits cross-bearing (&&stavrophoros&&) proto-presbyters and archimandrites to wear a visible cross. Decision on who is to be chosen for such honor is taken by the Holy Synod of Bishops on the recommendation of the local bishop. Every Wednesday and Friday is dedicated to the power of the honorable and life-giving cross. The day before Epiphany, Holy Cross Day, is dedicated to the cross, as is the third Sunday of the Great Lent. 27/14.
September is the Feast day of the Elevation of the Precious Cross when we celebrate the occasion when Helen the Holy Empress, Emperor Constantine’s mother, had found the cross on which Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on Golgotha.
It is the location where Joseph of Arimathea laid the body of our Lord Jesus Christ to rest after it was taken down from the cross. Our Lord’s body rested there for three days in anticipation of Easter Day – the day of Resurrection. In every church there is a location where the Shroud is being laid every Great Friday and this spot is called Christ’s Tomb. See Shroud.