Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Worship

Good Friday Service

April 6, 2007

Stations of the Cross
Prayer and Reflection


Welcome and Introduction

This is a modified version of the stations of the cross; so if you are familiar with the Stations of the Cross you will notice that some are missing. Each station has a short reading for quiet meditation. This is for you to read, ponder and consider. This is followed by a reflection; a telling of the last of day of Jesus’ earthly life through the eyes of a Roman soldier. The booklet is yours to take with you; may it guide your prayers and devotions over the next two days as we mourn the death of our Saviour. Let us pause to centre ourselves, to bring ourselves into this time and place, leaving aside our cares and concerns, and be truly present for this moment…..

Call to Worship

Today the carpenter’s hands are nailed to a cross, the king of kings is crowned with thorns and wears the purple robe of mockery. Today he sets us free, himself imprisoned on a tree. Today is God’s Friday. We come in worship.


Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble...
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Station One Jesus is Condemned to Death

Silent Meditation
It is Friday—early in the morning. Jesus is brought from Caiaphas the High Priest to Pontius Pilate, the Governor on trumped-up charges of treason. Jesus is condemned to death by the Romans.


The cries of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” still ring in my ears. The picture of Pilate sitting on the judge’s bench asking the crowd of leaders and people “Shall I crucify your king?” and their response, “We have no king but the Emperor”…it is an image that haunts me. It haunts me because of the callousness and injustice of it all. The world is often so unjust. But mostly it haunts me because I see this injustice, this callousness, sometimes in myself. Lord, when do I see you hungry, sick and helpless and do not reach out to you?


All: Holy One, whose dear child did not go up to joy before he first suffered pain, and did not enter into glory before he was crucified, show us how to walk in the way of the cross, so that we may find it to be the way of life and peace; in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Station Two—Jesus Bears His Cross

Silent Meditation
A heavy cross is put into Jesus’ arms and he is ordered to carry it to the place of his execution. He accepts the cross. Carrying it by himself, he goes out to the Place of the Skull—Golgotha—to be crucified with two others.


He went out carrying his own cross…Humanity is burdened with many crosses—war, hunger and famine, greed and poverty, sickness and death. My neighbours bear their crosses. Some there are who mourn, some who struggle to survive financially, some who are in fear and loneliness. Jesus went out carrying his cross alone. He knows what it is like to carry a heavy burden.


One: O Merciful God, who answers the poor,
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God, who answers the lowly in spirit,
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God, who answers the broken of heart,
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God:
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God,
Many: Have compassion
One: O Merciful God,
Many: Redeem.
One: O Merciful God,
Many: Save.
One: O merciful God, have pity upon us.
Many: Now, speedily and at a near time.
--Jewish Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) prayer

Hymn Go to Dark Gethsemane v.1,2

Station Three—Jesus Falls For the First Time

Silent Meditation
The cross is heavy and the road to Calvary, the road to Golgotha—the place of death—is long. Jesus, weary from lack of sleep, loneliness, fear, and the beatings he received slumps to the ground. Soldiers quickly drag him to his feet again.


All around Jesus are the mockers and those who take delight in human misery. It is hot and sticky in the crowded little street. The air is filled with foreboding on this Day of Preparation for Passover. The world is filled with people, it seems, who have fallen and struggle to rise and there are no hands, not even rough ones, to help. Do I, too, mock him by my unthinking, uncaring gruffness?


He called upon his God, saying, “Things overwhelm me: come to my help.”
--Q’uran, Sura (chapter) 54:10

Station Four—Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

Silent Meditation
Jesus is faltering under the load. The soldiers fear that he might die along the way. They seize Simon of Cyrene, put the cross on his shoulders, too, as he stands behind Jesus and make him help shoulder the load.


A perfect stranger, coming into the city, just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was grabbed and forced to take the cross. Was he reluctant? Was I? I longed to help Jesus but I was afraid. I was relieved…when they picked someone out of the crowd to help. I was ashamed…that I could not bring myself to step out of character, out of my role to help the man.


One: Let us pray to God, who loved the world so much that he sent his only Child to give us life. Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the cross for your Child.
Many: Give us grace to lift heavy loads off those we meet and to put ourselves with those condemned to die.
One: Holy One, hear us.
Many: God, Graciously hear us.

--Caryl Micklem

Hymn What Wondrous Love v.1,2

Station Five—Jesus Falls the Second Time

Silent Meditation
Jesus falls again, despite the help of Simon. He lies sprawled in the dirt, sweat beading on his face, mingling with his blood from the cuts on his forehead and the dust of these well-travelled streets. The soldiers, impatient and anxious to be over this job, roughly drag him to his feet again, cursing him.


My heart wrenches. My stomach churns. I feel my own sweat upon my brow. I can only guess at his agony. The weight of the cross is too much and he is very weak. He is baring a heavy burden like so many others in my society and has been forced once again to his knees—like them. How do they feel as they watch this? Do they recognize their own pain? Did they try to hid that pain by laughing at it, like me? Did they reject that pain by jeering at him, like me?


All: O Jesus, who for our errors bore the heavy weight of the cross and fell under its weight, may the thought of your sufferings make us watchful against temptation and stretch out your loving hand to help us.

Station Six—Jesus Speaks to the Sorrowing Women

Silent Meditation
A large crowd of women have followed Jesus’ path to Golgotha. They are weeping and wailing—in traditional mourning for this man, their friend. They are overcome by their helplessness. Jesus say to them, “Don’t weep for me, but for yourselves and your children.” Your tears are not enough.


They cry, these women, like I am crying on the inside. But our tears are not enough. They cannot stop the agony. They cannot feed the hungry. They cannot bring peace. “If you must weep,” he says, “weep for your own pitifulness and lack.” There is another way. I know it in my heart. We must move beyond weeping. We must also act. But… I cannot.


All: O Lord Jesus, we mourn and will mourn both for you and for ourselves; for your sufferings, and for our sins which caused them. Teach us to mourn so that we may be comforted, and escape those dreadful judgments prepared for those who turn away from you.

Hymn Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed?

Station Seven—Jesus Falls for the Third Time

Silent Meditation
No sleep. Nothing to eat or drink since supper the eve before, the interrogations, the scourging, the mockery—they have all taken their toll. Jesus falls again to the dust and grime of the crowded street of Jerusalem amidst the noise of weeping and heckling.


This is almost too much. How much more will he, will we, have to endure? Jesus has become a spectacle. The laughter as he struggles once more is awful. How can they laugh? Can’t they see he’s trying? Don’t they feel any pity? I should talk. My patience is wearing thin to get this over with. I want to go home. This poor creature won’t.

One: By your wounded hands
Many: Teach us diligence and generosity.
One: By your wounded feet
Many: Teach us steadfastness and perseverance.
One: By your wounded and insulted head
Many: Teach us patience, clarity and self-mastery.
One: By your wounded heart
Many: Teach us love,
One: Teach us love,
Many: Teach us love
All: O Master and Saviour.
--Daphne Fraser

Station Eight—Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Silent Meditation
Finally…they arrive at the God-forsaken place where he will be crucified. People dump their garbage here. Hurriedly, roughly, his clothes are stripped from his back, leaving him naked in front of the crowd—naked, exhausted and humiliated.


Stripped naked. Nothing left, not even dignity. Is this His poverty or is it ours? We took his clothes, we took his dignity, much like this world strips naked hundreds and thousands of its people every day with its greed and its uncaring. Our selfishness stands exposed for what it is when we stripped Jesus naked.


All: O God, as on this solemn day we bow at the foot of the cross, may the love that was manifested there stream into our hearts, challenging and subduing them and winning from us that response which is your will for us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Leslie Weatherhead

Station Nine—Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Silent Meditation
Roughly, contemptuously, the soldiers thrust Jesus down onto his cross. Holding him down—some sit on him—they pound the nails through his hands and feet. After he is lifted up, the soldiers throw dice for his clothing to fulfill the Scripture, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.”


Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?


The ring of the hammer on the nails, the sickening sound of flesh and bone crunching…they echo in my brain. I’ll never, never, ever forget this. Somehow this one crucifixion is different than all the others I’ve been to. The torture, for that’s what it was, has not stopped. It still happens every day. From utter brutality to the unkind word that flays the soul—it still happens. But the nonchalance, the ease with which the soldiers threw the dice beneath his feet…as if nothing were happening…it horrifies me today. I know—I was there. I threw the dice with the rest.


All: Today the One who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the cross. He who is Ruler of the angels is crowned with Thorns. He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery. He who in Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon his face. The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The Child of Mary is pierced with a spear. We venerate your Passion, O Christ. Show to us also your resurrection.
--Greek Orthodox Hymn for Good Friday

Solo Cross Upon a Hill: The Lament of Peter

Station Ten—Jesus Dies on the Cross

Silent Meditation
The nightmare of pain and suffering, the agony of betrayal and loneliness come to an end. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her and he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” The thief on the cross beside him cries out, “Remember me, O Lord, when you come into your kingdom.” After three mercifully brief hours on the cross, suspended between earth and sky, Jesus dies. Choking on the hyssop dipped in wine, he gasps out the words, “It is finished.” He bows his head and gives up his spirit.


I watched…I heard the words he spoke. I saw his agony…I felt the spear dig in his flesh. I saw the blood and water pour out down his side, down his thighs to the ground. Violence and death. I hung my head. I could no longer see for the tears that flowed, like his blood, down my face. I could not stop the words, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” I felt overcome. Why did I have a hand in this? How have I let it happen?

One: Let us recall the words Jesus spoke from the cross.
Many: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus did as he told others to do, and forgave those who wronged him. Help us to forgive others from our heart. And forgive our world for still committing acts of great cruelty.
Many: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus gave this assurance to a man convinced he deserved to die. Awaken us to a true understanding of what we are and what we have done. But give us too, the same assurance, that whatever we have done, nothing can separate us from your love.
Many: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus thought of others even when dying. Deliver us from self-pity, from brooding on our own wrongs and misfortunes. Help us to be like Christ to our neighbour, acting as Jesus would act, mediating your love.
Many: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

One: We thank you, God, that Jesus was fully human, and no stranger to the anguish of despair. Help us also through the dark times, so that we may emerge with faith strengthened.
Many: I am thirsty.
One: We thank you, God, that someone answered this cry. Help us to answer the cry of those in our world who are hungry and thirsty.
Many: It is finished.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus died believing he had done your will and accomplished your work. May we too be single-minded, and when we die need not to regret that we have squandered your gift of life.
Many: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
--Caryn Micklem

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb....

Depart in Silence


Reverend Dona Quixote said...

Powerful, my dear, powerful ... and thank you for sharing it freely with us.

Magdalene6127 said...

RP, I read your post this morning over at the RevGals preacher party, and I wanted to say that you will be in my thoughts tomorrow, as you celebrate your birthday and the resurrection. I hope you can make it a day in which you take wonderful care of yourself, cherish yourself for the gift you are to the world.



Sue said...

Beautiful service RP.

Happy Birthday and blessed Easter tomorrow.

Rainbow Pastor said...

Many thanks to you all--and apologies for th fnky formatting on the Good Friday service. I did a cur-and-paste from Word, so probably imported some things I didn't really want to import...

Blessed Easter to you all!

Kate said...

Reading this, I think it finally really _hit_ me, what Jesus did. I spent a lot of last Thursday (when I read this) having a good hard think about it all...and a bit of a shaking-with-tears-and-pray, too.

Thank you so, so much.

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