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Good Friday 2024

Below you will find the liturgy from our Good Friday service. You are encouraged to move through it slowly, spending time with the questions.



Welcome

This morning we shall move through the story of Good Friday with a series of brief reflections followed by questions and silence, interspersed with prayer and song and opportunities for response. We have used much of this material in previous years, but we come to it afresh, bringing ourselves as we are in this moment.


Song | Light of the World

 

Reflection | Jesus washes his disciples’ feet

Dusty roads and sandals do not make for clean or fragrant toes, and so it was customary for guests to be provided water to wash their feet, and in richer households the foot washing may have been performed by a servant. At the last supper, we see Jesus take on the role of both host and servant, fetching the water and washing his disciples’ feet himself, a simple yet profound act of care. After the washing is done, Jesus says that his disciples must now follow his example and wash one another’s feet. They do not immediately run to fetch more bowls and towels however, because they understand that there is more to what Jesus is saying. As those who follow in his way, they must serve one another in all the ways he has served them.


Who cares for you?

How might you care for someone else?


Prayer | Thanksgiving

God our creator, parent and friend, 

we thank you for the wonderful gift of life,

with all its joys and responsibilities, 

its experiences and opportunities. 

We praise you for good health and daily food, 

for the shelter and care of our homes,

the love and loyalty of our friends.

We thank you for work honestly done, 

for games well played, 

for all the truth we have learned 

and the good that has been achieved. 

We thank you for the teaching and example of Jesus Christ,

for forgiveness and salvation, 

for his presence with us always 

and for the service into which he has called us. 

Help us to thank you not only with our lips,

in praise and prayer,

but in our lives of hope and love; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Reflection | Jesus shares his last supper

In the gospels we often see Jesus at dinner tables, sharing meals with friends and foes alike. Here he celebrates his last supper with those closest to him. The timelines are slightly unclear, but this is traditionally thought to have been a celebration of the Passover. This meal was already rich in meaning, commemorating the escape of the Israelites from Egypt. And yet Jesus brings new significance to the bread and the wine as he offers them as symbols of his body and blood, which he says will be broken and shed for the forgiveness of many and the writing of a new covenant. Bread and wine would have been found not just at the Passover meal but on any dinner table, and so when Jesus calls his disciples to remember him whenever they eat and drink them, he calls them to remember him at all times. 


Who gathers around your table?

How do you make meaning together?


Communion

Remembering that final meal, we share in communion together now.


Jesus says to us:

Remember me. Let me not be forgotten, let my living have meaning, let my story be told.

Remember me. Put back together the fragments of my story, let me live on in you.

Here is a story too profound for words. It is in the breaking, the pouring, the spilling, the tearing...

That the putting back together becomes possible.

This bread for my body. This cup for my blood. Shared, consumed...

Becoming part of you as you become part of my body.

Remember me. Put me back together. Weave together the broken strands of my story.

Remember me. Let me be with you, today and one day in paradise.

Here is a story too profound for words. It is in the remembering that comes the forgetting...

The slate wiped clean, the tears dried. And life everlasting becomes possible.

Remember me. Do not forget. Live the meaning of this story. Let the story once more be told.


Reflection | Jesus prays in Gethsemane

After the meal, Jesus and his disciples left the city for the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked his disciples to keep watch, and then went to a quiet place to pray. While the disciples failed in their duty by falling asleep, Jesus prayed the most heart wrenching prayer imaginable. Whether by divine insight, or because it was obvious to anyone with any sense that Jesus was going to end up on the wrong side of the authorities, Jesus knew what was going to happen to him. Perhaps he had already seen men dying in agony on crosses outside the city walls, or dragging those heavy beams through the city streets. Whatever he already knew of crucifixion, he didn’t want to go through it any more than you or I would, and he prayed desperately that there would be another way, and yet he stayed to face what was coming. We only hear Jesus’ side of the prayer, but I wonder what words were whispered or strength was given in response. We may not be facing execution, but we do all have fears and anxieties of our own


What lies ahead of you?

What fears do you need to pour out?


Song | From Heaven You Came


Reflection | Jesus is condemned

Jesus is arrested and hauled before the Sanhedrin and then Pilate, accused and condemned of blasphemy and treason. This series of trials is an act of injustice in so many ways, as the religious courts break their own legal codes and Jesus is mocked and beaten by Roman soldiers. And yet through it all, Jesus barely speaks. Perhaps he wants the inadequacy of earthly power to reveal itself, so that we might better understand our need for the divine kingdom he has promised. Perhaps we need to see humanity at its worst, so that we might be willing to be reimagined at our best.


Where do you see injustice in the world?

How do you respond to it?


Prayer | Intercession

God of kindness, you gave your only Son, 

because you loved the world so much. 


We pray for the peace of the world.

Move among us by your Spirit, 

break down barriers of fear, suspicion, and hatred. 

Heal the human family of its divisions 

and unite it in the bonds of justice and peace. 


We pray for our country. 

Enrich our common life; 

strengthen the forces of truth and goodness; 

teach us to share prosperity,

that those whose lives are impoverished

may pass from need and despair to dignity and joy. 


We pray for those who suffer. 

Surround them with your love, 

support them with your strength, 

console them with your comfort,

and give them hope and courage beyond themselves. 


We pray for our families,

for those whom we love. 

Protect them at home 

and support them in times of difficulty and anxiety, 

that they may grow together in mutual love and understanding, 

and rest content in one another 


We pray for the Church. 

Keep her true to the Gospel 

and responsive to the gifts and needs of all. 

Make known your saving power in Jesus Christ 

by the witness of her faith, her worship and her life. 

Amen.


Reflection | Jesus is crucified

Jesus is led to the place of crucifixion where he is nailed to a cross, a troublemaker left to die on the edge of town. It is a cruel and evil act, and we must never forget or lessen the horror of it, and yet as Jesus dies because he loves us enough to make the good trouble we need, he transforms it into an act of fierce and tender love


Would you risk your life to make good trouble?

How far would you go to show God’s love?


Song | How Deep the Father’s Love


Reflection | Jesus forgives

There are traditionally seven sayings of Jesus from the cross, spread across the four gospels. Of all of them, the one that still takes my breath away is the prayer of forgiveness for those who had tortured and crucified him. He says they do not know what they are doing, but they should have known enough. They may not realise the full weight of their actions, but they are not guiltless. And yet Jesus forgives them, just as he forgives the foolish and cruel things we do. In the same spirit of compassion and generosity, he comforts one of those who is crucified beside him, with the assurance that he will be with him in paradise. 


Do you need to forgive or be forgiven?

What words of comfort do you need to say or hear?


Prayer | Confession

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, 

through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. 

We have not loved you with our whole heart. 

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. 

We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. 

In your mercy forgive what we have been,

help us to amend what we are, 

and direct what we shall be; 

that we may do justly, love mercy, 

and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.


Reflection | Jesus dies

With Jesus’ final breath he declares it is finished. The earth shakes, the sky goes dark, the temple curtain is torn in two, and the tombs are broken open. Something has shifted in the fabric of the world, and the cross becomes a bridge between all that was and all that will be.


What does the cross mean to you?

What ended and began when Jesus died?


Response | The Tree

On Sunday the tree was hung with palm leaves on which we wrote our praise. This morning it is bare, but in a few quiet moments, I am going to invite you to come and take a drawing pin and push it into the tree, symbolising the nails of crucifixion.You may like to reflect further on the good trouble that led Jesus to the cross and the love that kept him there, or there may be other aspects of our reflections so far that you wish to return to.


Reflection | Jesus is buried

A rich man named Joseph of Arimathea approached Pilate and asked for permission to take Jesus’ body. Pilate agreed and so Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, placed it in the tomb he had prepared for himself, and rolled a big stone in front of the entrance, while Mary Magdalene and the other Mary watched. That stone must have felt like the heaviest object in the world, and I imagine the hearts of all those who were there sank within them as it dropped into place. The joy of Palm Sunday had become the grief of Good Friday and was soon to become the desolation of Holy Saturday.


What are you grieving right now?

What feels like it has been buried?


Song | When I Survey the Wondrous Cross


Blessing

We end this service sitting with those wonderfully loyal women outside the tomb in the shadow of the cross, and like them we must bear our grief a little longer.


The women will return to the tomb on Sunday, and we are invited to do likewise. Until then, may God be with us in our waiting, in our confusion, and in our sorrow. Amen.


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