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Holy Week – Good Friday Paper Service

Good Friday 10:30am 10th April 2020

 

Our service this morning consists of three readings from John’s Gospel, each followed by a monologue.  After each monologue spend a few moments in silence, thinking and praying about what you have read.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3 verse 16.

 

The Lent Cross

Today we remember how Jesus went willingly to the cross so that you and I and everyone who trusts in him could be forgiven and receive new, eternal life.

Lord Jesus, we have come here this Good Friday morning to remember your sacrifice for us and for all people.  We thank you for your great love.  Help us to show your love to all those we meet.

Help us to grow closer to you and stronger in our faith.  Amen.

 

Hymn: There is a green hill far away.

There is a green hill far away,

Outside a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified,

Who died to save us all.

 

We may not know, we cannot tell,

What pains He had to bear;

But we believe it was for us

He hung and suffered there.

 

He died that we might be forgiven,

He died to make us good,

That we might go at last to heaven,

Saved by His precious blood.

 

 

There was no other good enough

To pay the price of sin;

He only could unlock the gate

Of heaven, and let us in.

 

O dearly, dearly has He loved!

And we must love Him too,

And trust in His redeeming blood,

And try His works to do.

 

 

Prayer:

Lord, your love is perfect and eternal. Your love for us is so great that You were willing to become fully human, to share all the joys and sadness of a human life, to suffer and die on the cross to wipe out our wrongdoing. We can always rely on your love, no matter where we are or what we do.  We thank you for your love and care for each one of us.  We are sorry that our love for you is such a pale shadow of your love for us.  Our love often falters and sometimes grows cold.  Forgive us Lord.  In a time of quiet now we remember all the things we have done wrong, knowing that if we are truly sorry you are always ready to forgive us -----

God is love and forgives our sins through Jesus.  Amen.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your Name.

Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Read: John 18 verse 28 to 19 verse 16 (Jesus is brought before Pilate)

 

Monologue: Pilate

Being the Roman governor of Judea isn’t a bad job.  The Jews are constantly bickering and complaining and there’s been a couple of half-hearted revolts.  But on the whole, they’re not difficult to control.  It only takes a few executions to restore order.

In my time here, I’d become intrigued by the god that they worship.  They spend a lot of time and effort worshipping this god and making sacrifices to him and it influences their whole lives.  Their god seems so much more real to them than our Roman gods do to us.

I’d been hearing about somebody called Jesus, from Nazareth.  He sounded like he was a very wise teacher and was performing many miracles, even healing lepers and bringing people back to life.  A centurion based in Capernaum told me how Jesus healed his dying servant without even going inside his house!  Who was this Jesus?  Was he just a great man or was he more than this?  I hoped that I would have the opportunity to meet him. I got that opportunity a couple of days ago: but not in the way that I’d wanted.

Some of the Jewish priests turned up at the palace with Jesus as their prisoner and asked me to have him crucified!  I wasn’t at all pleased about this.  Why should I to do their dirty work for them?  They had no charges to bring against this man except that he had supposedly claimed to be the king of the Jews. But it was plain to see that this was no self-styled king.  He had no army.  He wore no fine clothes.  He made no claims for land and property.  When he’d entered Jerusalem it was on a colt, not on a fine stallion.

Anyway, I asked him if he was a king, expecting him to say no.  But his reply was very strange.  He said he was a king but that his kingdom is not of this world.  He also said that the reason he’d come into this world was to testify to the truth. What is truth, I asked, more to myself than to him.  Truth for me is what can be bought with money or what can be achieved with a sword.  What truth was this fascinating man talking about?  What truth was he testifying to?

Whatever it was, this man was clearly no threat so I offered to release him as it was their Passover.  But they wouldn’t have it.  They only wanted one thing – for Jesus to be crucified. Why?  What had he done to deserve this?

Later on, after my soldiers had softened him up with a bit of a flogging, I told the Jews again that I could find no basis of a charge against him. I found their answer very alarming.  They told me that Jesus claimed to be the son of their God. Things started to fit together.  I remembered the miracles that I’d been told about.  I also remembered what Jesus had said earlier about his kingdom not being of this world and that he came into this world to “testify to the truth”.

So I asked him where he had come from, but he gave no answer. Why wouldn’t he answer me?  This was very strange. Normally at this point the prisoner was begging for his life!  Normally they were telling me that it was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding and that they’d done nothing wrong at all.  This time I wanted to let the prisoner go free but he was staying silent!  Very frustrating!

In desperation I asked him why he refused to answer me.  I asked him if he realised that I had power to either free him or crucify him.  His answer was that I had no power other than that given to me from above.  By that I assumed he meant his father who is God, which made me feel even more uncomfortable.

I’m the most powerful man in Judea, yet this prisoner in front of me was more powerful than I.  He was the one who was in control.  I was starting to feel that I was just a mere player in a much bigger game. It was as if he knew he had to die.  Crucifixion is the most painful and humiliating way to die.  I’ve seen many brave men turn into gibbering fools at the prospect.  For what possible reason would any man be willing to be crucified?

The reason must be the truth to which Jesus said he was testifying. That truth must be something very special indeed.

 

Time of Quiet

 

Prayer in response

Dear Lord Jesus, we worship you as a king above all kings – the king of a kingdom far greater than we can imagine.  Lord Jesus, we worship you for laying aside your majesty and coming into this world.  We worship you for going to the cross to die in agony.  We know that you didn’t have to.  We know that you could have denied the truth and been set free.

Lord Jesus, we’re amazed that you did all this for us.

And Lord Jesus, we’re amazed at the truth to which you came to testify.  The truth that by believing in you, we are forgiven.  The truth that by believing in you, we will not perish but have eternal life.

Lord Jesus, help us always to keep that truth close to our hearts.  Help us to keep it central to our lives.  Because, without that truth, we live in darkness, shame and hopelessness.  But with the truth in our hearts, we know that we have nothing to fear and we can look forward to living in your kingdom forever.  We know that by your death we have life.  Amen.

 

Read: John 19 verses 17 to 24

 

Monologue: Mary Magdalene

When Peter told me that Jesus had been arrested, I thought that it was all just a silly misunderstanding.  I really thought Jesus would be released again. He’s the most wonderful, kind and gentle man that ever lived.  How could they accuse him of doing anything wrong?  I kept thinking - even if the chief priests want him out of the way, Pilate will just laugh at them as there’s no case to answer.

When Pilate spoke to the crowd and offered to release him, I really thought that everything was going to be OK.  Only a few days before the crowds had been cheering when he entered Jerusalem - so surely they’d ask for him to be released. I felt numb and dazed when I heard them shouting for that murderer Barabbas.  I thought “what are they doing – how can they be so stupid?”  I just kept thinking - this can’t be happening!  It was only then that I realised that Jesus was going to be crucified.  Jesus was going to be taken from us.

People see me as a strong, practical woman.  I’ve known more than my fair share of suffering in my time.  I’m not the type that starts blubbering whenever things go wrong.  But when they took Jesus away, I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer and I cried like I’d never cried before.  They were tears of anger, of frustration and of sorrow.  But most of all they were tears for Jesus as I knew what those soldiers would be doing to him behind those walls.

The next time I saw Jesus he was staggering up the street with a huge bit of wood across his shoulders.  Blood was running down his gentle face.  He had cuts and bruises all over his body.  Huge, ugly bruises.  And when he passed me I saw that his back had been torn to pieces by the flogging - a mass of blood with strips of skin hanging off.

I’ll never forget the sound of the nails being hammered through his wrists and ankles.  That sickening crunch each time the nail went through. And I’ll never forget the sight of Jesus hanging there when the cross was lifted up. As I looked at his face - that gentle face that was normally so full of love and laughter – all I could see was a face full of agony and suffering.

How could they do this to the most wonderful, kind and gentle man that had ever lived?

 

Time of quiet

 

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, when we think that it was for us that you bore the pain and humiliation of the cross, that it was for us that you endured the even greater pain of separation from your Father God, taking all the consequences of our wrongdoing upon yourself, we are humbled once again by the depth of your love for us.  We can only thank you with our whole hearts and try, with your help, to live lives more worthy of your sacrifice.  Help us to accept the forgiveness and new life that you obtained for us at such great cost.  And help us never to forget how much you love us.  May we reach out to others in that love, so that they too may know what you have done for them.  Amen.

 

Read John 19 verses 25 to 42

 

Monologue: The disciple John

I was at the foot of the cross when Jesus died. I was one of his disciples - but there was nothing I could do to help him. And as if dying slowly in agony wasn’t enough, the priests and the teachers of the law started taunting him.  Oh, they looked so pleased with themselves now.  Now that Jesus couldn’t answer back.

But when I heard them shout “come down from the cross so that we may see and believe” I thought, yes, of course!  That’s what’s going to happen. Jesus can raise the dead, walk on water, feed thousands and tell a storm to stop.  I know - I’ve seen him do it!  Getting himself down from a cross won’t be any trouble. Or the Father will send an angel to lift him gently down to the ground. I was actually looking forward to seeing their faces when it happened.

But it didn’t happen. Jesus remained on the cross, getting weaker and weaker.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Jesus uttered “It’s finished”, bowed his head and died. I knew then that Jesus wasn’t going to save himself.

As I watched them take his broken, lifeless body down, I felt so confused. Why did Jesus die like that? Why hadn’t Jesus saved himself from that terrible death?

But then I started thinking about the things that Jesus had told us about himself. And finally the penny dropped.  This was all part of the Father’s plan! Jesus died on the cross for a reason. Jesus knew it had to happen - so he willingly let it happen. Jesus willingly let himself be humiliated, tortured and killed in the most painful way imaginable. And Jesus did it for me and he did it for you.  He did it for everyone.

It wasn’t the nails that had kept Jesus on the cross at all – it was his love for us.  Every single one of us.

 

Time of quiet

 

Prayers: (SPCK Book of Christian Prayer 1012)

Let us pray to the Father, who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to give us life.

Simon from Cyrene was forced to carry the cross for your Son.  Give us grace to lift heavy loads off those we meet and to serve you in whatever way you ask.

Your Son watched the soldiers gamble to share his clothes.

Look with your forgiveness on those who make a profit from their victims, and on those whose hearts may be hardened by their work.

The thief looked for a part in the coming of your kingdom and received your Son’s words of hope and comfort.  Give hope and reconciliation, healing and peace to all who look death in the face today.

In Mary and John your Son created a new family at the cross.  Fill our relationships, and those of new families today, with mutual care and responsibility, and give us a secure hope for the future.

Nicodemus came to take your Son’s body away.  Give gentleness, hope and faith to all who minister to the dying and bereaved, especially remembering our hospice here in Bury, and give courage to those whose faith is secret.

Simon and Nicodemus, Mary and John became part of your Church in Jerusalem.  May your Church today be filled with such different people, united by the cross, and celebrating our unity in your Son with all your saints in glory.

We ask our prayers in the Name of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

 

Hymn: When I survey the wondrous cross.

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.

 

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God:

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down:

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

 

Were the whole realm of Nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all!

 

Final prayer: (by Nick Fawcett)

Lord Jesus Christ, there are no words sufficient to express the wonder of your love, no deeds sufficient to express the enormity of our gratitude, but we ask that you will receive our worship, our faith and our lives as a token of our thanksgiving, and as a sign of our love for you.

Lord Jesus Christ, receive this day our heartfelt praise, and use us to your glory; for your name’s sake.  Amen.