Good Friday Service – April 15, 2022
~ written by Karen MacNeill Gathering, Lent/Easter 2013, page 68. Used with permission
Good Friday is a time of both sorrow and lament. Sorrow for what happened that first Good Friday and lament that, despite the presence of Christ with us today, we still continue to betray, deny and crucify. Today, through the symbol of nails, we face the reality of what happened then and what continues to happen today.
Call to Worship
Good Friday is a difficult part of our faith. It is a day of shadows and death.
A day when it seems like the sun will never shine bright enough or warm enough again.
It is a day of pain and sorrow.
A day when hope dies; when the world seems withered and barren.
It is a hard story to tell.
But we will tell it. We will hear it, we will feel it, and we will share it. For it is our story, our hope and our salvation.
Hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross #149 (verses 1 & 2)
Listen now as we again here the story of that first Good Friday through the Gospel According to John. Reading from the Contemporary English Version of our scriptures.
John 18 (selected verses)
Jesus and his disciples crossed the Kidron Valley and went into a garden. Jesus had often met there with his disciples, and Judas knew where the place was. So he went to the garden with some Roman soldiers and temple police, who had been sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees. They carried torches, lanterns, and weapons. Jesus asked, “Who are you looking for?”
They answered, “We are looking for Jesus from Nazareth!”
Jesus told them, “I am Jesus! At once they all backed away and fell to the ground.
Jesus again asked, “Who are you looking for?”
“We are looking for Jesus from Nazareth,” they answered.
This time Jesus replied, “I have already told you that I am Jesus. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.
The Roman officer and his men, together with the temple police, arrested Jesus and tied him up.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. The girl at the gate let Peter go in, but asked him, “Aren’t you one of that man’s followers?”
“No, I am not!” Peter answered.
It was cold, and the servants and temple police had made a charcoal fire. They were warming themselves around it, when Peter went over and stood near the fire to warm himself. While Simon Peter was standing there, someone asked him, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ followers?”
Again Peter denied it and said, “No, I am not!”
One of the high priest’s servants was there. He asked, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with that man?”
Once more Peter denied it, and right then a rooster crowed.
Early in the morning Jesus was taken from Caiaphas to the building where the Roman governor stayed.
Pilate came out and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
They answered, “He is a criminal! That’s why we brought him to you.”
Pilate told them, “Take him and judge him by your own laws.”
The crowd replied, “We are not allowed to put anyone to death.”
Pilate then went back inside. He asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Are you asking this on your own or did someone tell you about me?”
“You know I’m not a Jew!” Pilate said. “Your own people and the chief priests brought you to me. What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world. If it did, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over to our leaders. No, my kingdom doesn’t belong to this world.”
“So you are a king,” Pilate replied.
“You are saying that I am a king,” Jesus told him. “I was born into this world to tell about the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth knows my voice.”
Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”
Then Pilate went back out and said, “I don’t find this man guilty of anything!
Hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross #149 (verses 3 & 4)
We now continue with our story
John 19 (selected verses) Contemporary English Version
The Pilate gave orders for Jesus to be beaten. The soldiers made a crown out of thorn branches and put it on Jesus. Then they put a purple robe on him. They came up to him and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!” They also hit him with their fists.
At about noon on the day before Passover, and Pilate said to the crowd, “Look at your king!”
“Kill him! Kill him!” they yelled. “Nail him to a cross!”
“So you want me to nail your king to a cross?” Pilate asked.
The chief priests replied, “The Emperor is our king!” Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be nailed to a cross.
Jesus was taken away, and he carried his cross to a place known as “The Skull.” In Aramaic this place is called “Golgotha.” There Jesus was nailed to the cross, and on each side of him a man was also nailed to a cross.
Pilate ordered the charge against Jesus to be written on a board and put above the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The words were written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
After the soldiers had nailed Jesus to the cross, they divided up his clothes into four parts, one for each of them. But his outer garment was made from a single piece of cloth, and it did not have any seams. The soldiers said to each other, “Let’s not rip it apart. We will gamble to see who gets it.” This happened so the Scriptures would come true, which say, “They divided up my clothes and gambled for my garments.”
Jesus knew that he had now finished his work and he said, “I am thirsty!” A jar of cheap wine was there. Someone then soaked a sponge with the wine and held it up to Jesus’ mouth on the stem of a hyssop plant. After Jesus drank the wine, he said, “Everything is done!” He bowed his head and died.
The next day would be both a Sabbath and the Passover. It was a special day for the Jewish people, and they did not want the bodies to stay on the crosses during this day. So they asked Pilate to break the men’s legs and take their bodies down. The soldiers first broke the legs of the other two men who were nailed there. But when they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead, and they did not break his legs.
One of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side, and blood and water came out. All this happened so that the Scriptures would come true, which say, “No bone of his body will be broken” and “They will see the one in whose side they stuck a spear.”
The Nails Speak
How well we know the story! And yet, each year we must live it again. Each year we must tell the story of the crucifixion as if it happened today. For indeed it did and does happen today. This very day, perhaps even in this very room, love is betrayed, justice is mocked and any hope of salvation is crushed beneath the brutality of the status quo. And every time, every time, Christ feels our pain, like a nail through flesh and bone.
Judas knew where the place was. So he went to the garden with some Roman soldiers and temple police, who had been sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees.
Nail of Betrayal – I am the first nail, the nail of betrayal. It can happen rather quickly. In the beginning, I’m right there with you, sharing the dream, the great vision. Then one day there are two visions, mine and yours. My vision is wonderful, exciting, bold and courageous. But yours in in the way. What I don’t understand is why you always seem so hurt when I choose my dream over yours, my hopes, my needs, my survival, over yours. It’s not personal you know.
“Aren’t you one of that man’s followers?” she asked.
“No, I am not!” Peter answered.
Nail of Love Denied – I am the nail of love denied. I stand in the shadows, watching, worrying, perhaps even aching when I see you so tormented. But I will not step out into the light. I will not stand with you. I will not speak in protest, nor raise a hand to rescue or even comfort. My fear holds me silent. Brother, sister, lover, child, it doesn’t matter. My fear is stronger than my love.
Pilate came out and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
They answered, “He is a criminal!”
Nail of Injustice – I am the nail of injustice. I represent the corruption of those who have been given the sacred trust of leadership. They are called to protect and to uphold the values and well-being of the community, but they have become corrupted by their power. All they protect is their own self-interest. I represent the arrogance of those who feel they know best, those who are willing to twist the law to their own ends. They tell themselves and others that their motives are pure, even noble. They know the harm they do, but are willing to accept the price so long as they are not the ones who must pay. I represent those things best done in the shadows – backroom, deals and hidden agendas. They arrested him in the night, far from the cheering crowds, and tried him in the dark hours before dawn. Where is the justice in that?
Pilate said, “I don’t find this man guilty of anything!”
Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be nailed to a cross.
Nail of Complicity – I am the nail of complicity. If the nail of injustice speaks of those who lead, I speak of those who follow. I speak of those who allow injustice to happen, those who stand by shaking their heads in dismay and condemning the actions of others, but who are not willing to act themselves. We turn a blind eye to corruption around us. We turn a deaf ear to the cries of the oppressed. We go about our day not wanting to know the many ways we benefit from the suffering of others. We want the cheapest price without concern for the labourers, the greatest profits without concern for the methods, the very best luxuries without concern for those who live in squalor. Pilate is the one named as complicit, the one who found not quilt in Jesus but ordered his death anyway. But Pilate is not the only one. We are all part of the injustices of our day.
The soldiers made a crown out of thorn branches and put it on Jesus. Then they put a purple robe on him. They came up to him and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
Nail of Ridicule – Two hands. Two feet. You would think that was enough. But no, one more nail is needed. I am the nail of ridicule: the cruel laughter that makes sport of all you hold dear, that belittles and demeans. I am the coward, hiding behind witty jeers and biting jests. I need to make you small, so that I can feel important. I am the nail that holds the sign above Jesus head that reads, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” How clever! How ironic!
Hymn What Wonderous Love is This #147
Good Friday Prayer
Divine One, with a sense of dread we have joined you on this one final journey. With disbelief, we have watched as those closest to you betrayed and deserted you, leaving you alone to face what was coming. With anger, we have seen the way you were treated by those in authority. With tears, we have witnessed your humiliation. With horror, we have watched as you were nailed to a cross. With breaking hearts, we have shuttered as we hear your dying breath. And now we stand before your cross, unable to deny the stains on our own hands and hearts. Pain and suffering abound, but we fear getting involved …
Abuse and hatred flourish, but we refuse to speak out, choosing to remain silent …
Injustices multiply, but we do little or nothing in response …
Power is abused over and over, but we claim we are helpless to change things …
And so, we stand before your cross, filled with fear, sorrow, horror and shame. Don’t leave us here Holy One, but guide us through this night to the possibility of hope that lies just beyond the next dawn. Amen
Hymn Were You There #144
Scripture John 19:38-42
Joseph from Arimathea was one of Jesus’ disciples. He had kept it secret though, because he was afraid of the Jewish leaders. But now he asked Pilate to let him have Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission, and Joseph took it down from the cross.
Nicodemus also came with about 30 kilograms of spices made from myrrh and aloes. This was the same Nicodemus who had visited Jesus one night. The two men wrapped the body in a linen cloth, together with the spices, which was how the Jewish people buried their dead. In the place where Jesus had been nailed to a cross, there was a garden with a tomb that had never been used. The tomb was nearby, and since it was the time to prepare for the Sabbath, they were in a hurry to put Jesus’ body there.
(leave in silence)