This time of worship is based on the one, led by Ramanee Bengough, which we used when we met together for a Connect event on Good Friday 2019.
As you scroll down this page, please watch the videos, and read the text and prayers.
Tune “O Waly Waly”, for the hymn “An upper room …”
Welcome to this time to think about Good Friday, and the crucifixion of Jesus.
We know the next part of the story, unlike those who were there at the time, but today we focus on the events surrounding the Cross.
Let us start with this verse from Matthew’s gospel …
“But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”Matthew 26 v 56
Let us say the words of the Lord’s Prayer together:
Our Father, who art in heaven
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
“There is a green hill far away”, the words will appear on the screen as the video plays.
As many of you know, I spent many years singing with a church choir. I always said that Good Friday has the best music, with moving words and haunting minor keys.
Last year, I joined the University of Dundee choir, and we sang a very modern piece, “Passion Music” by Will Todd. It’s a jazz choral music, something completely out of my comfort zone.
The piece of made of up nine songs, and it pulls no punches telling the crucifixion story. One particularly lively piece is entitled “Seven last words from the cross”. It made me look again at these words across three gospels that Jesus is recorded as saying, it’s really seven phrases.
I want to look at each one very briefly, in the context of the Crucifixion story, and use it as a point of prayer and time of quiet.
It may feel a little disjointed, and we will hear some of the events twice, but it allows us to listen again to His words.
There will be a passage of scripture, followed by a brief reflection and a short prayer. You may wish to add your own prayer before continuing.
In the middle, we will listen to words from John’s Gospel set to music as part of Stainer’s Crucifixion.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).Mark 15 vs 33-34
These words are taken from Psalm 22, and as we will see Jesus refer to Psalms again later.
These are also the only words recorded in Aramaic, and can be thought of as us hearing the actual words He spoke. An amazing thought.
However alone Jesus may appear to be in these words, He was still making a difference to those around Him, prompting the centurion to later say “Surely this man was the Son of God”.
Let us pray:
Lord tonight we are hearing again your words, however familiar.
Let us hear you speak to us afresh this Good Friday & Easter.
Take away our doubts and let us also see you as the Son of God.
In a moment of quiet, let us ask God to remove any doubts in our hearts
Woman, here is your son
Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write “The King of the Jews”, but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’
Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
‘They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.’
So this is what the soldiers did.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.John 19 vs 17-27
We see some amazing statements made by Jesus from the Cross, at a time when He was undergoing terrible torture, and a most horrible death.
Here He is showing care for both His mother and His friend, at a time when you might think He would only be thinking about Himself.
Let us pray:
Lord, you showed caring, compassion and thoughtfulness even at the time of your suffering.
Help us to show care and love to our families and friends, in whatever situations we find ourselves.
And in this time of silence, let us name those who need our prayers this evening.
I am thirsty – It is finished
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.John 19 vs 28-30
I ran these two pieces together. And although I shouldn’t be surprised, everytime you study a familiar bible passage you learn something new.
Perhaps you already knew – but wine vinegar was what soldiers were given to drink when they were on duty.
Again here Jesus acts to fulfil the Scriptures.
And he receives compassion from the soldiers.
And he says “It is finished” – the task Jesus came to do is now over.
In Philippians ch 2 v 8, we also read “He humbled himself, and became obedient to death”.
Let us pray:
Lord we need to hear you, and become obedient to your word.
Help us to focus on the direction you have for us.
In silence, let each pray to hear His word, and know our direction.
Listen to these words in music from John Stainer’s Crucifixion, and performed several years by the University of Exeter Chapel Choir.
God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whoso believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the worldJohn 3 vs 16-17
to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved.
Father, forgive them
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left.
Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.Luke 23 vs 33-34
Jesus is asking His father to forgive those who torture Him. From time to time, in the news, we hear of others who forgive murderers and those who have committed terrible crimes.
Forgiveness comes from love, and Jesus’ love is for everyone. Us here, and those who not yet heard.
Let us pray:
Lord, we are amazed when we look again at Jesus asking for forgiveness for his torturers.
Thank you that we are forgiven by you, and may we show your love to those we meet, forgiving others, as you commanded us to do.
In a time of silence, let us ask for God’s forgiveness, for things we have done wrong or not done
Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’
There was a written notice above him, which read: “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’
But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’Luke 23 vs 35-43
What a promise!
Jesus reminds us all of what awaits us, and even at His end, He was making that promise to a thief.
Let us pray:
Lord thank you for this promise.
That Jesus made a way for us to be with you in your heavenly kingdom.
Thank you that we have heard your call.
In silent prayer, we give thanks for this great promise. And pray for those around us who still do not know.
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’
When he had said this, he breathed his last.Luke 23 vs 44-46
In the final words from the Cross Jesus quotes from Psalm 31 – which formed part of a Jewish evening prayer.
He speaks to His father, confident of His future.
Let us pray:
Lord, we all commit ourselves to you.
We ask you to guide us through our lives, whatever age we are.
In our final time of quiet, let us commit ourselves again to follow Him, our Lord & Saviour.
“When I survey the wonderous cross”, the words will appear on the screen as the video plays.
We say the words of the Grace to whoever is with us, and to everyone we have thought about during this time of worship.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.
Please share this time of reflection with anyone you think will find it helpful at this time
With thanks to Ed Muirhead, Ramanee Bengough