Today we commemorate the death of God—the paradox of the Christian religion and the mysterious scandal of all creation.
Pious and impious men alike have found the crucifixion central to our world. Even Nietzsche considered it one of the main sources of Western civilization—for him, both as a curse and as a blessing.
Stichera from Vespers:
Today the Master of creation stands before Pilate. Today the Maker of all things is given up to the cross, and of His own will He is led as a lamb to the slaughter.
He who sent manna in the wilderness is transfixed with nails. His side is pierced, and a sponge with vinegar touches His lips.
The Deliverer of the world is struck on the face, and the Creator of all is mocked by His own servants.
How great is the Master’s love for mankind! For those who crucified Him, He prayed to His Father, saying: “Forgive them this sin, for in their wickedness they know not what they do.”
Down from the Tree Joseph of Arimathea took You dead, who are the Life of all, and he wrapped You, O Christ, in a linen cloth with spices. Moved in his heart by love, he kissed Your most pure body with his lips; yet, drawing back in fear, he cried to You rejoicing: “Glory to Your condescension, O You who loves mankind.”
The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Your most pure Body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linens, and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.
The angel came to the myrrh-bearing women at the tomb and said: “Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption.”