Day 39/Good Friday: They Took the Body of Jesus

According to the Burial Custom © Jan L. Richardson (click to enlarge)

They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.
—John 19.40

From a lectionary reading for Good Friday: John 18.1-19.42

Reflection for Friday, April 6 (Good Friday/Day 39 of Lent)

Years earlier, when an angel had appeared in a sheep pasture proclaiming good news of great joy, the angel had told the shepherds of a Savior, a Messiah, a Lord whom they would find as a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. Now, on this day, the Savior is wrapped in a spiced shroud of linen cloths, a scented winding sheet to hold him as he lies in the tomb. It’s tempting to draw a stark contrast between the emotions of those who held Christ at his birth and those who held him at his death; though joy must have prevailed at the beginning of his life and fear and grief at the end, surely, among those who saw and knew him best, celebration and sorrow were mixed on each occasion. Yet as at the beginning, so at the end: those who love Christ enfold him, tend him, bless him.

Song of the Winding Sheet
A Blessing for Good Friday

We never
would have wished it
to come to this
yet we call
these moments holy
as we hold you

Holy the tending
holy the winding
holy the leaving
as in the living

Holy the silence
holy the stillness
holy the turning
and returning to earth.

Blessed is the one
who came
in the name

blessed is the one
who laid
himself down

blessed is the one
emptied for us

blessed is the one
wearing the shroud.

Holy the waiting
holy the grieving
holy the shadows
and gathering night

Holy the darkness
holy the hours
holy the hope
turning toward light.

P.S. For previous reflections on Good Friday, click the images or titles below.

Good Friday: What Abides

Good Friday: In Which We Get Nailed

For a video slideshow that intertwines my series of images on the Seven Last Words of Christ with Gary’s exquisite song “This Crown of Thorns”:

Listening at the Cross

[To use the image “According to the Burial Custom,” please visit this page at To use the “Listening at the Cross” video, please visit this page. Your use of helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

2 Responses to “Day 39/Good Friday: They Took the Body of Jesus”

  1. carolyn sargent Says:

    The facts are that this is lovely, poignant, that I’ve fallen in love with the new direction your artisting is taking you/us……and that today is the day I repeat myself as I do each year, encouraging those who haven’t already read ‘In Which We Get Nailed’ to gift themselves: it shakes me and blesses me with each revisit.

  2. Mike Loomis Says:

    Great stuff, Jan! Thank you so much!

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