Good Friday

Shadows of the Cross

(If you are able, clear a table or sit in a quiet place for this service. Set up seven candles on a table, or perhaps a fireplace, mantle, etc. Each candle is going to stand for one of the seven last things that Jesus said from the cross. As you move through these meditative prayers, at the end of each one of the seven, extinguish a candle. The movement, or extinguishing of each flame is meant to give a sense of moving closer to Jesus’ death)

Opening Prayer

Almighty God,

look graciously, we pray, on this your

family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ

was willing to be betrayed

and given into the hands of violence and anger,

and to suffer death upon the cross;

who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Reading: The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

According to John (John 19: 17 – 30)

Meditation on the Seven Last Words of Jesus

And the Extinguishing of the Candles

First: Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23: 34)

Let us reflect on what it means to be forgiven. What does Jesus see when he forgives? Mobs of faces, a mob mentality, people choosing to be passive in the face of injustice and suffering, people choosing to be aggressive, wanting suffering to happen. Each face in the crowd that watched him carry his cross is connected to a face today that watches without helping. Each voice that yelled kill him, connects to voices today where people think they have reason to kill. Each voice that passively remains silent connects with each of us, for as long as there is suffering … can our rest, our quietness be anything other than complicity?

Silence. A candle is extinguished.

Second: I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23: 34)

How much must Jesus want that, for everyone? Does he speak to the two thieves for a reason? Perhaps, because they are dying, they can connect with what matters. When life will soon end, how much do we miss who we love? How much do we regret? How much do we remember? Who is Jesus missing, what might he regret, and what is he remembering… how painful must it be to want only love, but to receive a cross? And so he reaches out to two people, the thieves, who might understand.

Silence. A candle is extinguished

Third: Woman behold your son, behold your mother (John 19: 26).

Family … How important must it have been for him to be in so much pain, to push past to tell two people how much he wanted for them …is it not the same for all of us when our life is ending, and all our life … Jesus affirms who we are … where is the limit of our family, at the door, the border, colour of skin, culture … John and Mary are not blood ….. there is Jesus’ definition of family … no limit.

Silence. A candle is extinguished.

Fourth: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27: 46)

Forsaken. Such a hard one, we think we know Jesus, so know, here is a moment he cannot feel God … Who feels that now? Someone who is so overwhelmed … have you felt it, frustration, anger, sad, with God? Deep disappointment with life, deep disappointment with the world … this affirms who we are, what life can be. It is not a sin to feel God is not with you, it is a feeling and Jesus has it.

Silence. A candle is extinguished.

Fifth: I thirst. (John 19: 28)

Suffering. This is not God’s will, it is human will. Why do we continue to think of God in Old Testament terms? Like Abraham willing to sacrifice his son … Like God willing to flood the world and kill almost everything because God is angry? No parent would want their child killed, why do we think that was what God wanted? Jesus suffering, thirsting … might that be God crying out, still, for us to respond, still a chance to save His son?

Silence. A candle is extinguished.

Sixth: It is finished (John 19, 30)

Uncompromised love. Faith in us, to the point of dying with that belief on his lips. He held back nothing, believing in his very soul that what he did was worth it, because he saw in us, the ability to love like he loved. In this world, with all its darkness, darker even than his world, humanity capable of atrocities Jesus never even saw … And he believed, believed in us, saw in us, the same heart he had. He knew God intended us as he was intended. We speak of believing in him. How powerfully must he have believed in us, to feel he was done, finished, and we would continue living this uncompromised love?

Silence. A candle is extinguished.

Seventh: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23, 45)

It is the way many of us were taught to end our day. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. We know God keeps our soul. But what does it mean to live that way? Our words to one another, measured by what we believe … our actions, when others can see us, and when no one sees us, measured by what we believe. The way we make our lives count, measured by what we believe. Jesus’ last words are to give God his spirit. In the midst of being executed, here is this beautiful moment, these words that tell us not only was he always with us, but always giving himself to God too. It is tragedy, and beauty.

Silence. A candle is extinguished.

(A time of silence may be kept, simply to allow whatever thoughts and feelings may arise after having heard the last things Jesus said from the cross, and seeing all the light of the candles extinguished. A moment to allow passion to arise from the heart, in dedication to all Jesus stood for on this day)

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Prayer: A Prayer of Promise

Dearest Jesus, help me to live your love and passion that I may continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. I will persevere in resisting evil, and whenever I fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord. I will proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ. I will see and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbour as myself. I will strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. I will love and respect everything God has made and live in harmony with the earth and all of God’s created beings.

Help me to keep my promises Jesus. So that your cross may not be taken in vain, let me respond to the brokenness of others, and let them see my brokenness too. That together we may be united in the love that heals all wounds, the love of God, birthed in us and given to one another. The birthright of every child of God, born in every corner of the world, for whom this day Jesus gave his life. Amen.