Good Friday Reflections & Worship Sheet
Words from Revd. David Burrow
Pause, light a candle and then read:
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Mark 15:1-15 Jesus before Pilate
We worship on this day to remember how the King of Heaven was, on earth, betrayed, rejected and sent to his death by religious people who thought they were doing the right thing.
We know that we ourselves would have done the same. But we believe, and in the life of Christ we see, that the love of God is greater than the sin of the world.
That is the hope that takes us through the suffering and death of our Lord to the joy of his resurrection.
He grew up before the Lord like a young plant whose roots are in dry ground:
he had no beauty, no majesty to draw our eyes no grace to make us delight in him;
his form, disfigured, lost all the likeness of a man, his beauty changed beyond all recognition.
He was despised, he shrank from the sight of people, tormented and humbled by suffering.
We despised him, we held him of no account, a thing from which people turn away their eyes.
Yet he himself bore our sufferings; our torments he endured while we thought he was punished by God, struck down by disease and misery.
We had all strayed like sheep: each of us had gone our own way.
But the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.
MP 85 Come and see, come and see
Our prayers are based on Jesus’ words from the cross.
Jesus: “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing”
Before you die Jesus, and the world goes into deep darkness, take from our lives, from our souls, from our consciences all that has offended you, all that has hurt others, and the ignorance and stubbornness which has made us numb to the plight of those whom we could help or heal.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world HAVE MERCY ON US.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world HAVE MERCY ON US.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world GRANT US YOUR PEACE.
On this day, irrespective of our faith or lack of it, we accept deeply in our hearts the only words that can set us free:
Jesus: “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace and sin no more.” Amen.
Jesus: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
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Lord Jesus, remember us when you come into your kingdom. Remember us, not for our impressive CV, nor for the things which we hope we will be remembered for. Remember us, not for the virtues we occasionally display or for any credit we think we have in our moral account. Remember us, as one of the criminal community who hung at your side, and if life will not let us be in paradise with you today, keep a place for us. Amen
MP 478 My song is love unknown
Offer your own prayers of intercession for the world, for the church and for yourself and others
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Bible Readings: John 19:16-25a The crucifixion of Jesus
Mark 15:33-39 Jesus’ death and burial
MP 755 When I survey
Refection: But this is your hour – when darkness reigns Luke 22:53
I wonder, have you ever been in a place where the darkness was absolute? A few years ago, I was in a coastal fort in Ghana which was used, at the height of the slave trade, to hold the slaves who had been captured and were ready to be shipped to the Americas. Their last days in Africa were spent in the dungeons. When the guide showed us in and closed the door behind us, darkness reigned. For the slaves there was no escape.
Darkness separates. Sin separates. They separate us from God, our heavenly Father and they separate us from one another. Meditate for a moment on the times when the powers of sin and darkness have separated you from God and your loved ones.
As we obey the guidance to socially isolate and distance ourselves from one another there is a danger that we allow darkness to reign. If you’re like me, you will be having good times and tough times. The tough times are not so easy to work through when you feel helpless and overwhelmed by everything happening around you. We fear for our loved ones and for people’s livelihoods. We fear for the future. Someone told me how, when things he was looking forward to were cancelled, he wanted to rant and rage at something, anything. But how do you rage against a virus? The danger is we give in to the fear and allow darkness to reign. Thank God that even in the darkness there is hope. Once we were slaves to darkness, to sin, but thanks to Jesus’ self-sacrifice this is no longer true. And here’s the reason why.
On Thursday evening the upper room was dimly lit with oil lamps which set shadows dancing on the walls. There was a sense of unease as Jesus talked about denial and betrayal, of his body and his blood, and of dying. The room darkened as the disciples’ minds began to fill with fear.
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After the meal they went out into the narrow streets, into the darkness of the night. Shadows surrounded them as they found their way along rough tracks out of Jerusalem, down the hill, through the Kidron valley and to the Mount of Olives. Did they speak or keep silent as they walked? Finally, they reached the seclusion and relative safety of the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the darkness of the garden, sitting among the olive trees, the disciples’ imagination would have had free reign. What did the darkness hide or were the shadows merely creations of their imagination?
Jesus prayed and the darkness of the Garden mirrored his suffering.
The disciples couldn’t fight off their need to sleep and they huddled silently in the cover of the bushes.
When Jesus was arrested, they were only half awake. The flaming torches of the mob spread terrifying shadows around the garden, and then Judas stepped forward to kiss Jesus, and in the panic an ear was cut off. Jesus restored order, but fear won out as Jesus’ friends ran for their lives and the darkness swallowed them.
Fear, ignorance and hatred were all powerfully present that night, but there was something even darker – a blackness that hung like a cloying mist over the events of the night – it was the darkness of sin.
All through the night, the questioning by the Jewish leaders, the trials before Pilate and Herod, the purple gown and the crown of thorns, the flogging and the mockery- through it all the darkness of sin spread its deep shadow, and Jesus said to his captors
“But this is your hour – when darkness reigns”
Darkness reigned, right up to the moment Jesus died: even creation couldn’t bear to watch.
When Jesus was born the angels turned the darkness of midnight into the brightness of midday. When Jesus died, the brightness of midday was extinguished; it was the hour when darkness reigned.
It was as if the sun itself turned away as its creator was murdered. On the cross, for three hours, Jesus took upon himself our sin, became distanced from God the Father and bore the punishment that should have been ours. Jesus, united with the Father for all eternity, experienced separation from God the Father. Jesus went to a place of separation so that we never need to be separated by the powers of sin and death from God. Before the events of the first Easter we were slaves, held captive by the darkness of sin.
Looking back, we can see how dark it was; Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb, the powers of darkness had seemingly won: it was the hour when darkness reigned.
But it’s not the end.
Darkness might reign today and tomorrow, but like the women we wait. Like the women we have seen where they laid him and we will return on Sunday morning as the day is breaking . . . .
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MP 674 There is a green hill far away
MP 750 What kind of love is this
Or for those who love this . . .
MP 536 On a hill far away
A cross: a symbol of despair and death.
Jesus’ cross: a symbol of hope and life beyond death.
And so we proclaim: 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.
And may God bless us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(Based on Romans 8: 38-39)
If you lit a candle at the beginning of your worship, extinguish it now, and watch the smoke rise, as a symbol of Jesus offering his spirit.
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