Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Good Friday Starter

Holy Week is one of my most favorite times in the life of the church.  Beginning with Palm Sunday, and moving through Holy Thursday to Good Friday and then our arrival on Easter, I just find the whole atmosphere to be moving.

There are some pretty jarring transitions that come with the territory ... From intimate communion on Holy Thursday to dwelling on the crucifixion of our Lord the very next day, it's a heavy week.

As I've been in the thick of planning Holy Week since returning from the holidays, I always begin with trying to find something new - especially for Good Friday.  The most common service for most of our congregations is the service of Tenebrae, a service of darkness.  The faith family I serve had done a Tenebrae service for decades before I came on staff, so you can probably guess the first thing I changed!  Last year we had a very meaningful service dwelling on the Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross, and this year we'll also be embarking on a different journey for our community: the Stations of the Cross.

I say Stations, but it's more like a modified version of a Passion reading service.  Beginning with the wonderful work of Robin Knowles Wallace in Just In Time: Palm Sunday and Holy Week Services, we've put together a service of intercessory prayer, remembering that day when Jesus interceded for all of us.

We'll be staging the scripture readings as a kind of reader's theatre, with different congregants reading for the characters, our pastors as narrators, and our choir as "The Crowd".  We won't be editing anything out of the scripture readings, whatsoever.  The Gospel of John is so easily set as a play, with it's very dramatic scenes.  I would encourage you to find ways to bring the Passion story to life!  Much like the atmosphere of a Tenebrae service, we'll also be extinguishing candles and dimming lights as we journey through the evening.

Here is the service from beginning to end.  You can also note that there is no prelude or postlude.  This service picks up right where Holy Thursday left, and of course the story doesn't end until the Resurrection.  Feel free to use any and all parts of this service!

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The Way of the Cross
A Service of Intercession, with the Stations of the Cross
Good Friday Worship
March 29, 2013

Invitation to Worship
Hear these words from Hebrews, chapter ten, verse twenty-three: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for God who has promised is faithful.”  Today, on this Holy Friday, we remember the day that the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace gave up his own life to intercede for the whole world and show us the way to the Creator.  As we travel with Christ on the way to His Crucifixion, we will pause to pray for the world He came to save out of His great love for us.
*Hymn 292 What Wondrous Love is This, stanzas 1-3 WONDROUS LOVE

*Opening Prayer
Amazing God, who has provided a way for us to come to you with clean hearts and  baptized bodies:
Thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ,
   who has opened a way for us to you
   by the sacrifice of his life and death.
May we accept this astounding gift
with humility and a generous spirit,
finding ways to live lives of love and good deeds,
   as Jesus taught us.
Grant this through the power of your Holy Spirit,
   we pray. Amen.
*Hymn 292 What Wondrous Love is This, stanzas 4 WONDROUS LOVE

The Stations of the Cross

Jesus in the Garden and His Betrayal, from the Gospel of John 18:1-8
Lord, we pray,
That we might not betray Jesus, but have God’s law in our hearts and written on our minds.
     Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Anthem Calvary Arranged by Lloyd Larson

Taken to the House of Annas and Caiaphas, from the Gospel of John 18:12-24
Lord, we pray,
For the leaders of the religions of the world – that truth, justice, and mercy may prevail.
  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Hymn God Weeps HIROSHIMA

Simon Peter Denies being a Disciple of Jesus, from the Gospel of John 18:25-27
Lord,
Hear our confession for times when we have not followed Jesus or claimed his place in our lives.
    Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Hymn 286 O Sacred Head, Now Wounded PASSION CORALE

Taken to the Headquarters of Pilate, from the Gospel of John 18:33-38
Lord, we pray,
For the governments of the world – that truth, justice, and mercy may prevail.
    Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Anthem God So Loved the World”, from The Crucifixion John Stainer

The People Choose Barabbas to be Set Free, from the Gospel of John 18:39-40
Lord, we pray,
For all under threat of punishment.
    Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Duet  “So Thou Liftest Thy Divine Petition” from The Crucifixion   John Stainer

Jesus is Crucified on Golgotha between Two Others, from the Gospel of John 19:17-22

*Hymn 288 Were You There, stanzas 1, 2, 3   WERE YOU THERE
Lord, we pray for all who die, who grieve, who suffer this day:
For those who die of hunger,
that might do more to share food and resources. For those who die of illness,
that we might work for health care for all. For those who die from the violence of others,
that we might spread love and teach caring. For those who die in wars,
that we might work for peace and reconciliation. For those who die at the hand of their government,
that other ways might be found to teach right living and rehabilitation. For those who die forgotten or homeless,
that we might open our eyes and move to their side. For those who die by their own hand because there seems no way to live,
open your arms, O God. For those who die when there seems to be no reason,
give peace, O God. For those who grieve,
give comfort, O God. For those whose illnesses seem to have no end,
give strength and steadfast love, O God. For those who see no way out,
give hope and courage, O God. For those who live with war each day,
give courage and humanity, O God. For children who live in fear or without love,
give strength and your love, O God. For those whose bodies are treated with violence or degradation,
give love and comfort, O God. For the elderly and those living on the edges of society,
give purpose and strength, O God. For those challenged by body or mind,
give strength and wholeness, O God. For those we deem as different and less,
open our hearts and minds and hands, O God. For those who struggle to do your will,
give strength and courage, O God.

*Hymn 288 Were You There, stanzas 4   WERE YOU THERE
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Oh!  Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

It is Finished, from the Gospel of Josh 19:25-30

Anthem     I Believe Mark A. Miller
I believe in the sun
even when it's not shining.
I believe in love
even when I don't feel it.
I believe in God,
even when God is silent

How will your faith family be observing Good Friday?