Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Good Friday—Journey to the Cross


Good Friday -- Journey to the Cross




As we enter into the events of Good Friday, the most holy of days, we immerse ourselves in the experience and the journey that takes us to the foot of the cross, do not rush but reflect on the experience, allow it to wash over us as one step at a time we draw closer to the cross and the events of this day.  As we take this journey, may God’s ultimate selfless love wash over us so that peace and light can flow in and through us.

Hymn    SORROWING SONG        (©Robin Mann and Dorothy Mann)
Lord, hear my praying, listen to me;
you know there's evil in what I see.
I know I'm part of all that is wrong;
still, won't you hear my sorrowing song?

Children are crying, hungry for food,
sick from diseases — God, are you good?
People are homeless, lost and alone —
God, are you hiding? Where have you gone?

Why do the rich ones steal from the poor?
Why do they build their weapons of war?
How can you stand the torture and pain,
hope disappearing, freedom in chains? 

Jesus, remind us that you are found
with those who cry, with those who are bound.
Where there is suffering, you will be there —
help us to follow, Lord, hear my prayer.

Gathering the community           ~ posted by Rev Gord on his blog, Worship Offerings.
Leader: From the busy-ness of our lives we have come here on a day
that is different.
All:         In the midst of the world which holds the promise of spring and new life, we have come to share a story of betrayal and execution.
Leader: Come and hear the tale, come and share the tragedy, come and
embrace the darkness.
All:          God of Light, God of Shadow, in our time together today, keep us aware of your presence in the darkness, help us to see meaning in this terrible story, and keep the fire of hope alive in our hearts.
Leader: This we pray in the name of the man from Nazareth, the one who lived with a great Passion for your Way, the one whose death is nigh, the one who taught his friends to pray saying:
Our Father, which art in heaven….

Opening Prayer
Jesus often went off by himself to find peace, quiet and solitude.  It was in those moments he took the time to pray and renew his energies.  We pray for ourselves that as we enter into the experience of Good Friday, reliving the passion of our Lord and his suffering on his way to Calvary.  It will not be an easy journey for any of us.  We will struggle, falter and fail as we push beyond our comfort level struggling with questions.  May we push to find answers and embrace the crosses in our lives.  Amen

Hymn    786 The Old Rugged Cross

Jesus Is condemned to Death                     Luke 23:13-24
Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’
 Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted.

Reflection
Here I stand Lord, surrounded by your quiet presence.  You do not condemn me for my wrong doings but offer me unconditional love.  You make me consider how I have condemned others.  How often I go along with the crowd rather that stand up for what I believe.  Did I do this because it was the easy way?  Have I dismissed someone as a loser and unworthy of my care?  What if that person was you, Jesus?  Would I have been in the crowd condemning you?

Prayer
Lord, there are so any people willing to tell and to believe lies.  Help me to stand up for what I believe in.  Forgive me for the times that I have hurt others because of this.  Grant me grace Lord to see the value of each person and to replace the condemnation with compassion.

Accepting the Cross and the Verdict         John 19:17 and Isaiah 53;5,7
So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.


Reflection
Jesus is given a heavy cross to carry on his bleeding and bruised shoulders. He takes that cross and carries it down a hard, steep road. He is carrying a burden that he did not earn. He journeys in silence.

How well do I accept the burdens of life? The crosses I have to carry? Do I complain, lay the blame on someone else? Admit to my mistakes? What burden are you carrying right now, what weighs heaviest upon you? Now offer it to God.
Prayer
Lord Jesus you accepted the cross even though it did not belong to you. Help me to accept the burdens in my life. Teach me to help others with their burdens as well. Grant me the humility to accept my crosses in life with love

Hymn When Hands Reach Out (Tune O WALY WALY 8.8.8.8)
Biblical References: John 15:15; 1 Corinthians 12 Tune: Traditional English melody
Text: Copyright © 2001 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.


When hands reach out and fingers trace
The beauty of a loved one's face,
We thank you, God, that love relies
On gifts of grace not seen with eyes.

When fingers spell and signs express
Our prayer and praise and thankfulness,
We thank you, God, that hands can sing;
You bless the silent songs we bring.

When broken bodies will not mend,
We thank you, God, for Christ our Friend.
In him, our healing can begin:
He welcomes all the wounded in.

And when the ways we learn and grow
Are not the ways that others know,
We thank you, God, that we have learned
Your love's a gift, and never earned.

Your Spirit gives us differing ways
To serve you well and offer praise.
When all are joined as one, we'll be
Your able, strong community.


Jesus Meets his Mother
Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ (Luke 2:34-35)

Stunned and numb, Mary watches Jesus sway and stagger under the weight of the cross that he must carry. She makes eye contact with her son, she sees his agony and her heart breaks. Her love for him is surpassed only by his love and concern for her

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:26-27)


Reflection
Do I value those around me who love me? My parents? my family? my friends? my partner?

Do I forget and grow impatient with them sometimes? When was the last time I showed them gratitude for their love and support? Think of those who love you, have guided, supported and disciplined you with gratitude and thanksgiving offer them by name in the silence to God.

Prayer
Jesus, it must have been hard to see your Mother’s pain. Teach me to love deeply. Help me to appreciate my parent’s love for me. May I love them as they truly deserve. Grant me the virtue of kindness to support those that I love through heart aches, grief and illness. May I be a comfort to them through my presence and prayers. Help me not to turn away from those who are suffering and in need of care and support. Help me to remember Mary, your mother, as a beautiful example of enduring love. Amen

Jesus is Stripped of his Garments Matthew 27:32-36
As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him.

For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shrivelled; I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me; they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22: 16-18)


Reflection
When Jesus finally reached the hill of Calvary the soldiers stripped him of his robes as part of the punishment. Everything Jesus had would be taken away from him . . . . even his life. There was nothing left on him to mark him as a man.

Do I let others influence me? Do I let others influence what I wear? Do I respect myself, my body, the body of others? Have I allowed others to pressure me in doing things that go against my values? Does pride clothe me and stop me from acting the way that I know I should? If I was stripped of all my possessions and left with nothing how would I see myself? What value would others give me? What virtue would you like to offer at this point in the journey to God.

Prayer

Lord, even though you were stripped and demeaned, your love for humanity could not be taken away. Help me to concentrate my efforts in this world to do things for you Lord. To have qualities that no one can ever strip away. Help me to be open to your will and value that you are the most precious possession. Help me to place myself in your hands and to be clothed with your grace. Amen

Hymn     Saviour when in Dust to you
Author: Joseph Parry Tune: Aberystwyth 1st Published in: 1815

Savior, when in dust to you
Low we bow in homage due;
When, repentant, to the skies
Scarce we lift our weeping eyes;
Oh, by all you pains and woe
Suffered once for us below,
Bending from your throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!

By your hour of dire despair,
By your agony of prayer,
By the cross, the nail, the thorn,
Piecing spear, and torturing scorn,
By the gloom that veiled the skies
Over the dreadful sacrifice,
Listen from your throne above;
Hear your children, hear in love!

By your deep expiring groan,
By the sad sepulchral stone,
By the vault whose dark abode
Held in vain the rising God,
Oh, from earth to heaven restored,
Mighty, reascended Lord,
from your throne bend down and see:
Let us share your victory!

Nailed to the Cross Mark 15:25-26 and Luke 23: 32-34
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’

Roughly the soldiers held down Jesus and nailed him to the cross

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]]
Reflection
Jesus endured so much with grace and respect for those who hurled insults and tormented him in his last moments. How deeply he loved humankind that even as they caused greater affliction and untold agony he forgave. Do I forgive those who hurt me? Or is the door to my heart nailed shut on those who have deeply wounded me? Do I harbour bitterness or does love rule? Is forgiveness conditional? Do I think of the others around me? In the silence think of those who have hurt you and ask God to help you to truly forgive. Think of those that you have hurt and seek forgiveness.

Prayer
Loving God, your compassion is so great. Even in your suffering you offer forgiveness and hope. Teach e how to let things go and let you in. You forgave the people that hurt you so much. Help me to stop looking for who is right and who is wrong and teach me to forgive and to love. Help me to choose not to nail others and to forgive those who nail me. Amen

Jesus Dies Luke 23: 44-46

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last.

Reflection
My sweet Jesus, you expired on the cross . . . with nothing on you but your passion and great love for us. You gave us all you had. It seems like a senseless death to us, but it through this death that we have embraced the cross to follow you. How is it that we only truly appreciate the value of someone when they are no longer in our lives? If the people around me were gone tomorrow would I be happy with the love that I have shown them? Do I pray for my family and those around me?

Prayer
Lord Jesus, you gave all that you had, no one could give more. Thank you for giving it all to us. When I am in pain or suffering help me to remember yours in order that I may make it through. Give me the courage to love with passion like you did. Help me to be completely committed to you. Amen

Closing Prayer and Benediction for Good Friday
God thank you for being with us in this moment where we stand poised between life and death, filled with sorrow, filled with thoughts of what has been and what lies before us. Thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for Jesus who was a gift to the world, a gift in each of our lives. Comfort us even as we are shaken by the horror of these events. Be with us in this time of sorrow and sustain us in the days to come. Amen



May the Lord Jesus Christ who walks on wounded feet, walk with you to the end of your road;
May the Lord Jesus Christ who serves with wounded hands help you to serve one another;
May the Lord Jesus Christ who loves with a wounded heart, be your love forever;
Look for the face of our Lord Jesus Christ in everyone that you meet and may they see his face in you. And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen



Hymn 545 There is a Green Hill

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