Good Friday Worship

“And it was the third hour when they crucified him” [Mark 15: 25]. In normal circumstances we would be completing our contemplation in church at 3:00pm on Good Friday. Why not find a quiet place in your home perhaps between 2:00pm and 3:00pm and use the following reflection, musical offerings, readings and prayers to offer in worship.

We begin our worship listening to the Orlando Gibbons hymn ‘Drop, drop slow tears’

1 Drop, drop, slow tears,
and bathe those beauteous feet,
which brought from heaven
the news and Prince of Peace.

2 Cease not, wet eyes,
his mercies to entreat;
to cry for vengeance
sin doth never cease.

3 In your deep floods
drown all my faults and fears;
nor let his eye
see sin, but through my tears.

A Reading from St John’s Gospel, 19:17-30

You can simply read this Gospel reading or listen to a dramatised reading of it (from 2:08 minutes in)

So they took Jesus, and he went out carrying the cross by himself, to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfil what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.

This year’s Holy Week Garden (by Pam Taylor)

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Hymn: There is a green hill far away

There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all. 

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains He had to bear;
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven,
Saved by His precious blood.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin,
He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.

Oh, dearly, dearly has He loved,
And we must love him too;
And trust in His redeeming blood,
And try his work to do.

A Good Friday Reflection from Rev. Suzanne Johnson

For me Good Friday is one of the most difficult days of the year.  It’s the day, year on year, when I recall the excruciating death of my best friend.  

I recently heard from a family friend whose father was dying from coronavirus but they were unable to be by his bedside – the only way they could be with him as he slipped away was to share his journey using a video link.

Recounting the Good Friday story is a bit like this.  We are remote from the ‘action’ and can only view it in hindsight. This year, as we journey with Jesus from the comfort of our sofas, it seems particularly poignant that so many of us are alone and perhaps crying out like Jesus from his cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  My friends were devastated at not being close to their loved one, do we feel the same about Jesus death?

In my ministry with the bereaved I often find that the hope of the resurrection is lost in the agony of death and grief.  For me on Good Friday it is often the other way round.  Although I recall the excruciating death of Jesus I still see it through the lens of the resurrection.  This could be seen to somehow diminish the death of Jesus and I think we need to think closely about how terrible, painful and shaming his death was.  One of the reasons Good Friday is so difficult for me is that I find it emotionally challenging to put myself at the foot of the cross – I would always prefer to be one of the women in the garden on Easter morning.  

How many of you feel the same? Is Good Friday just an extra day off work while you wait for the glory of copious amounts of chocolate from the Easter Bunny, or do you like me, imagine the pain of being nailed to a cross, the agony of not being able to breathe, and the unbearable misery of being abandoned by all you believe in.  We often forget (or at least I do) that Jesus was a human being just like us.  Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer or accidently sewn a stitch into your finger? Multiply this by an unimaginable number and we cannot even come close to the agony of crucifixion; a method of execution used across the Roman Empire specifically because of the pain and humiliation it caused.

There are many times when I am holding the hammer or hoisting the cross, rather than praying with Jesus or mourning his death.  The miracle is that Jesus still opens his heart and says to me, just as he did to the thief on the cross next to his, “Today you will be with me in paradise”.  We need to hold on to both the knowledge of our complicity in crucifying Jesus as well as his love and compassion for us.  Nothing we do can ever take away God’s love. As Paul (one of the prime persecutors of Christianity before his conversion) says in his letter to Romans “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” 8:38-39 (NRSV).

This I cling on to and this I carry in my heart every time I try but fail to be the person God wants me to be.  I also cling to the knowledge that the way of the cross was just part of the story, a terrible, unspeakable part, but just a part nonetheless.   Our gospel reading for Good Friday, John 18:1-19:42, recounts a large part of the story, from Jesus arrest to his burial, and we must remember that the story continues, and although we will all experience the dark times of failing, we also live in the explosive light of the glory of Easter day!

Psalm 22: My God, My God Look Upon Me [follow the words below]

MY God, my God, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me? and art so far from my health, and from the words of my complaint?
O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season also I take no rest.
And thou continuest holy, O thou Worship of Israel.
Our fathers hoped in thee; they trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them.
They called upon thee, and were holpen; they put their trust in thee, and were not confounded.
But as for me, I am a worm, and no man; a very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying,
He trusted in the LORD, that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, if he will have him.
But thou art he that took me out of my mother’s womb; thou wast my hope, when I hanged yet upon my mother’s breasts.
I have been left unto thee ever since I was born; thou art my God even from my mother’s womb.
O go not from me; for trouble is hard at hand, and there is none to help me.
Many oxen are come about me; fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.
They gape upon me with their mouths, as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart also in the midst of my body is even like melting wax.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my
tongue cleaveth to my gums, and thou bringest me into the dust of death.
For many dogs are come about me, and the council of the wicked layeth siege against me.
They pierced my hands and my feet: I may tell all my bones: they stand staring and looking upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
But be not thou far from me, O LORD; thou art my succour, haste thee to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth; thou hast heard me also from among the horns of the unicorns.
I will declare thy Name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
O praise the LORD, ye that fear him: magnify him, all ye of the seed of Jacob; and fear him, all ye seed of Israel.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the low estate of the poor; he hath not hid his face from him; but when he called unto him he heard him.
My praise is of thee in the great-congregation; my vows will I perform in the sight of them that fear him.
The poor shall eat, and be satisfied; they that seek after the LORD shall praise him: your heart shall live for ever.
All the ends of the world shall remember themselves, and be turned unto the LORD; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and he is the Governor among the nations.
All such as be fat upon earth have eaten, and worshipped.
All they that go down into the dust shall kneel before him; and no man hath quickened his own soul.
My seed shall serve him: they shall be counted unto the Lord for a generation.
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Prayers

Let us pray to the Father, who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to give us life.

Simon from Cyrene was forced to carry the cross for your Son. Give us grace to lift heavy loads from those we meet and to stand with those condemned to die.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Your Son watched the soldiers gamble to share his clothes. Transform the hearts of those who make a profit from their victims, and those whose hearts are hardened by their work.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

The thief, who was crucified with Jesus, was promised a place in your kingdom. Give pardon and hope, healing and peace to all who look death in the face.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

From the cross Jesus entrusted Mary his mother and John his disciple to each other’s care. Help us also to care for one another and fill our homes with the spirit of your love.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

In Mary and John your Son created a new family at the cross. Fill our relationships, and those of new families today, with mutual care and responsibility, and give us a secure hope for the future.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

The centurion was astonished to see your glory in the crucified Messiah. Open the eyes of those who do not know you to see in your Son the meaning of life and death.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Joseph of Arimathaea came to take your Son’s body away. Give hope and faith to the dying and bereaved, and gentleness to those who minister to them.

Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Simon and Joseph, Mary and John became part of your Church in Jerusalem. Bring into your Church today a varied company of people, to walk with Christ in the way of his passion and to find their salvation in the victory of his cross.

Lord of the Church, hear our prayer, and make us one in heart and mind to serve you in Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Choral Anthem: The Lamentations (Bairstow) – (follow the words below)

How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people: how is she become as a widow!
She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces: how is she become tributary!
She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers, she hath none to comfort her.

The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn assembly: all her gates are desolate, and she herself is in bitterness.
The Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
All they that go by clap their hands at her:
they hiss, and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem saying, “Is this the city that men called the perfection of beauty; the joy of the whole earth?”

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.

For these things I weep: mine eye runneth down with water.
From on high hath the Lord sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day.
My flesh and my skin hath he made old: he hath broken my bones.
He hath builded against me; and compassed me with gall and travail.
He hath made me to dwell in dark places: as those that have been long dead.
I am become a derision to all my people: and their song all the day.
Let him give his cheek to him that smiteth him: let him be filled full with reproach.
Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by: behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.
Remember mine affliction and my misery: the wormwood and the gall.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.

Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: behold and see our reproach.
The joy of our heart is ceased: our dance is turned into mourning.
The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, for we have sinned.
For this our heart is faint: for these things our eyes are dim.
Let us search and try our ways: and turn again unto the Lord.
Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned: renew our days as of old.
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed: because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him.
O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul: thou hast redeemed my life.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.

Our Good Friday Response (Vincent Ashwin)

Lord, what would we have done? Would we have fallen asleep and then run away terrified, like the disciples in Gethsemane?

Thank you that you forgive us for our weakness, when we opt out and run away from conflict and cost.

Lord, what would we have done? Would we have shouted ‘Hosanna’ on one day, and ‘Crucify’ on another?

Forgive us when we fail you because it is easier to follow the crowd.

Lord, what would we have done? Would we have been harsh and judgemental like the pharisees? Forgive us when we are quick to condemn, or hide behind legalism.

Lord, what would we have done? Would we have been like the soldiers, hard and callous, just doing their job?

Forgive us when we act blindly and unthinkingly, without considering the effect our behaviour has on others.

Lord, what would we have done? Would we have slunk away ashamed from the horror of Calvary?

We thank you that you forgive us when we let you down, and that your love is stronger than all the evil we could throw at you.

May the cross of the Lord protect those who belong to Jesus, and strengthen our hearts in the faith of Christ, in hardship and in ease, in life and in death, now and for ever, Amen.

Our Good Friday Response: When I survey the Wondrous Cross

1. When I survey the wond’rous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory dy’d,
My richest Gain I count but Loss,
And pour Contempt on all my Pride.

2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the Death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his Blood.

3. See from his Head, his Hands, his Feet,
Sorrow and Love flow mingled down!
Did ever such Love and Sorrow meet?
Or Thorns compose so rich a Crown?

4. His dying Crimson, like a Robe,
Spreads o’er his Body on the Tree;
Then am I dead to all the Globe,
And all the Globe is dead to me.

5. Were the whole Realm of Nature mine,
That were a Present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my Soul, my Life, my All.

Notices

  1. There will be Easter Worship posted on our website on Easter Morning.
  2. Every Wednesday evening, we are using Zoom to come together for Compline. We meet at 8:45pm with Compline beginning at 9:00pm and finishing by 9:20pm. If you would like to join in, please email your request to Jim Oliver (oliverjim1@sky.com) and he will give you the ‘meeting’ number and password.
  3. It may not be your cup of tea but, as part of ‘The Shows Must Go On’ intitiative during the pandemic, Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming without charge ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’ from You Tube at 7:00pm today. I remember the controversy when it was first performed but it does offer a valuable perspective. You can access this on You Tube searching for ‘the Show must go on’ or simply google it.

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