Thursday, 25 April 2019

19th April 2019 - Good Friday 9.30 am We do not know what we are doing.

Gathering God’s People

Call to Worship
We have gathered this Good Friday to remember the betrayal, humiliation and crucifixion of Jesus. We have gathered to experience anew the events that would change the world.  May we experience all the pathos of that day and may we participate in its meaning together.

Where is the light that shines in the darkness? Where do we turn when all hope is lost?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
We were the hollow echo of hosannas once spoken in love.

Were you in the garden when the disciples fell asleep?
We were the betrayal in Judas’s kiss.

Were you in the courtyard when the cock crowed?
We were the denial on Peter’s lips.

Were you among the scoffers when Jesus was flogged?
We were the whip in the soldier’s hand.

Were you in Pilate’s chamber when he washed his hands of Jesus’ fate?
We were the hatred of the crowd and the indifference in Pilate’s heart.

Were you with the powers of this world when the soldiers dressed Jesus as a king?
We were the mockery in the crown of thorns.

Were you among the spectators at Golgotha?
We were the nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
We were the silence when no bird sang.

Hymn TIS 123: Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side

Author: Katharina von Schlegel; Translator: Jane Borthwick (1855)

1 Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heav'nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Shadow of Condemnation

Reading: Luke 23:32-34

Forgiving Christ, when the world condemns us, when wrong is done to us, when we carry the weight of things that are too much to forgive, come along side us in the darkness, and give us the grace to be forgiven and forgiving.

Hymn TIS 347: We sing the praise of him who died
Thomas Kelly

We sing the praise of him who died,
of him who died upon the cross;
the sinners’ hope, though all deride:
for this we count the world but loss.

Inscribed upon the cross we see
in shining letters, “God is love”;
he bears our sins upon the tree;
he brings us mercy from above.

Shadow of Separation

Reading: Luke 23:35-43

Reconciling Christ, we are weighed down by sin and separation, a world that is not at peace, people who are not whole. You reached out to the thief, you welcomed him to God’s side. Come alongside us in the darkness, and bring grace and peace to everything that is broken.

Hymn TIS 730: Jesus, Remember Me when you come into your Kingdom

Shadow of Sorrow

Reading: John 19:25-27

Loving Jesus, we carry the weight of the people we love, concern for their sorrows and suffering. Our care for them is deep, and sometimes there is not much we can do. Come alongside us in the darkness, and cradle the ones we love in your strong hands.

Hymn TIS 357: When his time was over, the palms lay
Robin Mann
When his time was over the
palms lay where they fell.
As they ate together he told
his friends farewell.
Jesus, though you cried out
for some other end,
Love could only choose a cross
When our life began again.

Shadow of Despair

Reading: Mark 5:33-34

Lord Jesus Christ, you know what it is to feel that God is far away. You know what it is to call out for God’s presence. Come alongside us in the darkness, and help us call out for God.

Hymn TIS 342: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Isaac Watts

1. When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

4. 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.

Shadow of Suffering

Reading: John 19:28-30

Suffering Saviour, in all our thirst, in all our sickness, in all our longing, in all our pain, you are there. Come alongside us in the darkness, and walk with us through all our suffering.

Hymn TIS 345: Were you there when they crucified my Lord
Based on an African-American Spiritual

Were you there when
they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when
they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me
to tremble, tremble, tremble;
were you there when
they crucified my Lord?

Shadow of Death

Reading: Luke 23:44-49

Reflection -  Quotes to give us all “Food for thought” from John’s Sermon
To hear the words we have heard this morning or even to read them is to step on holy ground… How can one hear this story of stories without fear and trembling?

What great sorrow and shame overcomes us who witness the flogging of our Lord, the spitting and the hitting! The perpetrators were people who a few days before were applauding him. These are the people who followed him to hear his words, to touch his garment, to feel the strength of God that flowed through him. And now, the mob violence has taken over perfect goodness is met with perfect hate and fear. The terror of evil seems to be triumphing…

How the heart aches for those who have ignored this solemn day and night! How can one plumb the depths of His love without allowing the heart and mind to recognise the great suffering that resulted from such love.

In our scriptures, one cannot help but notice the details that could have come only from an eye witness. The fear of Pilate, his struggle to appear in control. His fascination with this man who stands before him battered and bleeding, but thoroughly in control himself; these are before us as they happen. And as a counterpoint, we hear Peter, what are you doing? How can you be so faithful through this? As though in him we recognise ourselves.

It’s frightening to realise that Caiaphas knows that he is dealing with the power of God, and very deliberately he sets out to crush it. Otherwise all his power, and all he has built as a career, will disappear. Power is not easily given up.

And those who have religious power have an even more difficult time relinquishing it. This is what has caused so much bloodshed in the name of God through the ages.

We hear with a poignant simplicity: "There they crucified him and with him two others." Here is a question; do we hear the hammer on the nails? Do we see the flesh being torn, the ligaments sheared, the bones crushed? What a horrible way to die. It defies all our powers of imagination.

On this holiest of days, we don't need words. We need to feel. We need to acknowledge the shadows that hung over Jesus and hang over us. To allow ourselves to feel. To feel his pain, for it was real; to feel his aloneness; to feel the terrible darkness that descended on the earth when the Son of God died.

Out of that death comes life. But first we must walk through that terrible death. Caiaphas made the choice to stay powerful in the eyes of the world and sold his own soul. Pilate made the choice to ignore the stirrings of his conscience. Jesus made the choice to obey God, to enter the darkness of death for our sake.

And we must follow. Otherwise, we will not taste resurrection. Amen.

Dearest Jesus, even in death, you are there. When we mourn, when we are afraid, when we come to our own end, you have been there, too. Come alongside us in the darkness, and carry us through death to life.

Hymn TIS 600: O my Saviour, lifted from the earth for me
William Walsham How

All you who pass this way
Look and see, the shadow of sin
All you who pass this way
Look and see the weight of the world
All you who pass this way
Look and see, the suffering of our Saviour.
All you who pass this way
Look and see, the sorrow of Jesus Christ
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. 


Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.                                          Amen.

Hymn 341: “My song is love unknown” V 1,2,3,4 and 7
Samuel Crossman

My song is love unknown My Saviour’s love to me
Love to the loveless shown That they might lovely be
O who am I That for my sake
My Lord should take Frail flesh and die


Hold fast to hope. Hold fast to one another.
For God, who has promised, is faithful.
The day of God approaches. Go in peace.