COCU29A.Good Friday.14April2017


Year A readings
Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 10:16-25   Bill Loader commentary
John 18:1 – 19:42 Bill Loader commentary on the Gospel

Bill Loader, An order of service for Good Friday
Reflections: God of the mountainTwo words from the Cross, Caiaphas – did you know?
A reflection by Rev Matt Stuart on Good Friday

Good Friday prayer: the hosannas have died away
O Holy God,
the hosannas have died away,
the palm branches have turned brittle.
Now, today, there is only this –
each of us,
all of us,
sitting in the darkness,
the hymns of lament in the air,
the mumblings of our own feeble confession,
on this Friday
which we tremble to call Good.

What is good about Good Friday?

What is good about the innocent one nailed to a cross?
What is good about the darkness of war that persists today?
What is good about our devastation of the planet?
… about people living in poverty?
… about the fog of addiction, depression, disease and despair?
What is good about the crushing weight of hunger, racism, scapegoating, apathy?

No, there is nothing good and desirable in these things.

Yet you, O God, are Good.

When suffering reigns, yours is the first heart to break.

When despair lurks about, we remember that you were there first,
peering into the abyss and crying out, incredibly:
“Father, forgive them.”

When we feel forsaken, we remember that in your last moments,
you cared for your mother and your beloved disciple,
binding them to one another as a new family.

When we feel overcome by guilt, we remember that you spoke grace to a thief:
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Your love for us is just that boundless,
and ever-present,
and Good.

Thank you.
What else can we say here, in the dimness,
in the darkness,
but thank you. Amen.
(Source: MaryAnn McKibben Dana, LiturgyLinks)

What Abides For Good Friday
You will know
this blessing
by how it
does not stay still,
by the way it
refuses to rest
in one place.

You will recognize it
by how it takes
first one form,
then another:

now running down
the face of the mother
who watches the breaking
of the child
she had borne,

now in the stance
of the woman
who followed him here
and will not leave him

Now it twists in anguish
on the mouth of the friend
whom he loved;

now it bares itself
in the wound,
the cry,
the finishing and
final breath.

This blessing
is not in any one
of these alone.

It is what
binds them

It is what dwells
in the space
between them,
though it be torn
and gaping.

It is what abides
in the tear
the rending makes.
(Source: Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace)

“So gather up the brokenness
and bring it to me now;
the fragrance of the promises
they never dared to vow;
the splinters that you carried,
the cross you left behind;
come healing of the body,
come healing of the mind.”
(Source: Leonard Cohen)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22.1
Jesus, fully human,
feels the anguish of God’s distance,
the bare landscape of abandonment.
Jesus, fully divine, feels that anguish, too,
the ripping ache of aloneness.
This is not the cry of someone deserted by God
but of one who knows God listens
when we feel that way.
This is the cry of God, brokenhearted for us.
God does not peer into our loneliness from above,
but lives there, suffers there.
The void is the silence of the soul of God,
the desert of our exile,
whose sandstone canyons echo with God’s own sobs.
This is the prayer of a lifeguard whose lungs cry for air
who has dived deep to rescue us from drowning.
This is the cry of a mother running into the flames
for her children.
This is the sigh of the Beloved
whose ear is pressed to the door of our hearts
from the inside.
This is the only voice of hope.
My God, my God,
you have descended so deep into my suffering
that even I no longer see you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

This morning in church as I listened to the story of Good Friday something strange struck me. The servant of the high priest who Peter attacked with a sword in the Garden of Gethsemene is named. His name was Malchus. Later in the story we are also told that he had a family. I reflected on why this person, who plays an insignificant part in the whole story, was named. It struck me that this victim of violence had a name, had a face, had a family.
This is still true today. The children gasping for breath after a sarin attack in Syria have a name, have a face, have a family. The people killed when the Americans drop the “mother of all bombs” on them, have a name, have a face, have a family. The people of North Korea, threatened with violence both internally and externally, have a name, have a face, have a family. the men, women and children held in Manus and on Nauru, have a name, have a face, have a family.
When I visited the battlefields of WW1 in France I noticed that the many gravestones of unidentified soldiers were engraved with the words “known unto God”. The victims of violence are always known unto God- God knows their name, their face, their family.
Those who perpetuate violence often try to keep their victims anonymous. The challenge of Good Friday is for us to see them as fellow human beings, to discover their names, to look into their faces, to weep with their families, to enter into their suffering just as Jesus did on the cross so that through this we may find healing for our world. (Rev Bev Fabb, 2017)

Readings for 2016 Good Friday service at Pilgrim UC: COCU29C.GoodFriday readings

Order of Service at Pilgrim UC: COCU29C.Good Friday2016

On the nature of the cosmos – a contemplation by Duane Clinker

Reflecting on the final words of Jesus – Hope Filled Words on a Hopeless Good Friday.

A wonderful resource of art, music and readings for Good Friday at ‘Gospel Feelings‘ website, by Lyn Seils Robertson. (Additions are made following the lectionary, so a website worth checking out each week).

Listening to words from the cross (Wellsprings liturgy for Good Friday)

Good Friday reflection
We come here today to remember a man.  A man…
who had dreams,
who had those dreams shattered,
who needed time to think and pray,
who knew he was likely to die for what he believed…
A man of extraordinary religious insight.
A man who did die – a cruel death.
On this day we look at the cross, and we remember…
the betrayal of friendship and its consequences,
the casual cruelty of Roman authority and execution,
and how unreliable others proved to be in a crisis.
On this day may we also remember
that religious bigotry, cruelty and unreliability
are still a part of our everyday lives.
On this day, then, may we learn some new precepts for living…
do not avoid contact with suffering, or close your eyes before suffering;
do not maintain anger or hatred;
do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest, or to impress people;
do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature…
On this day we remember.
(Source: Rex Hunt, edited from M. Dobson, M. Morwood, Thich Nhat Hanh)

I wove a wreath of thorns one day
for some poor, ruined prisoner
whose name I don’t recall and cannot say.
We got a laugh at him, all right,
who claimed, I guess, to be a king,
though he had never uttered such a thing,
but only spoke of love through bleeding lips.
He was a tramp, and not of royal birth,
so we would see just what his realm was worth.
I made a crown with kingly flowers entwined,
and thorns so sharp they lanced my hands,
and as I did I greeted all that pain,
for it contained the wounds and years of wounds
I’d borne and now could shove away,
and make another bear instead of me.
Oh, it was worth the pain to jeer
and jam it on his sorrowing head.
And as I crowned him with contempt,
my bleeding hands about his face,
thorns piercing me and him as one,
though mine sweet pain of causing pain,
and his the pain of suffering,
he looked me in the eye,
though trembling, tenderly,
as if I were the one now dying, or had died,
and reached with something, though his hands were tied,
and touched a place beyond that place,
and then it seemed that something drained away,
though what it was I could not say.

After we crowned that pitiful king,
and beat him some, to clarify some things,
we killed him, as we always do.
I took a rest and caught my breath,
and went home from that little hell
and met a different kind of death
that it would take me longer to endure,
the strangest thing: my hands were healed,
and something else as well.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

The Cross
Inflicted by a humanity
Who was shamed by your living
And affronted by your divinity
Lord, you were crossed.
Bled as an homage to arrogance.
Mocked to fuel self-righteous indignation.
Bruised to inflate an illusion of power.
Crushed to feed a love of violence.
Killed in an attempt to enshrine injustice
Disempowered to preserve the power of the powerful.
Lord, you were crossed.
May we not cross you in our failure to live in your way
May we not cross you in our falling short of your calling
May we not cross you in our lacking of love and loving
May we not cross you in our disservice of the poor and oppressed
May we not cross you in witnessing to your presence and introducing you to all we meet.
May we not cross you this day or any.
This we seek to pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

A song by Kathy Douglass: Shadow of your love
(Kathy’s prayer set to music for the 2016 Good Friday Tenebrae Service of Shadows at St. Luke the Physician)

On this night of dark betrayal
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love

On this night of agony
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love

On this night of deep denial
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the in shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love

On this night of accusation
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the in shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love

On this night of mockery
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the in shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love

On this night of crucifixion
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the in shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love

On this night of death and dying
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the in shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love

On this night of burial
Jesus Christ, reveal that I am standing in the in shadow of your love
I am standing in the shadow of your love
(Source: Music and words, Kathy Douglass)

Lord, you are punctured
no longer divided
between inside and out,
knowing in your flesh
the sharp violence that kills what it fears:
take us through the narrow door
from which an endless river flows
into a new body – wounded but unafraid;
through Jesus Christ, passion of God. Amen.
(Source: Lyn Siels Robertson, Gospel Feelings – the link has other Good Friday resources)

Holy Week in an unholy world by Shane Claiborne

13 Resources – Good Friday 25 March 2016

Classic Tony Campolo sermon – It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming

I stretch out
my arms
and bear
your cross
Your fear
that wells up and overflows
Your sorrow
that haunts
the most awful pain
You endure

I gather into myself
with open arms
to swallow it
in love
I drown your No in my Yes
to a deeper Yes
The grave itself I smother
in love
until there is
nothing left
but Yes
and still
even later and always
my open arms                                (c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

What if Psalm 22 and Psalm 23 are the beginning and the ending of one single song instead of the spot where some monk arbitrarily put a second chapter head? If so, was Jesus working his way, praying his way or maybe even possibly singing his way through Psalm 22 AND Psalm 23 on the cross?
From “My God, My God…” to the company of evil doers mocking him, to the dividing of his raiment and casting of lots for his cloak, to the dust of death, to the “And I shall live for him” to the end of Psalm 22 and the shockingly similar “He Has Done It” (close to the Aramaic equivalent of the pluperfect tetelesthai, “It Has Been Finished/Accomplished”) and continuing on thru the 23rd Psalm. Since there were no chapter marks in the scrolls, what does it do to change your perception of the crucifixion if Jesus is continuing on through the Psalm – which of course WAS a song – to the Lord as Shepherd, through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, to the table in the presence of his enemies to the cup – not taken away from him but literally running over?
Maybe the “It is finished” was one of his last words… or maybe as he ebbed in and out of consciousness and his lifeblood was dripping away he was singing to the end of the full Psalm’s thought… to the to dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
When I (Rich Melheim) had my heart incident, I found myself quietly singing hymns in my head, in and out of sleep and consciousness. Hymns of hope and comfort. Hymns of peace and “It is well, oh my soul.” And guess what? The music helped me believe it was.
Maybe Jesus was singing, too. After all, the Psalms were songs.
In the film, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, the men in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, sing Psalm 23 to their friend Celliers (David Bowie), who has been buried in the ground up to his neck as a means of punishment and then left to die. This is an example of the way the Psalm is a comfort in times of deep distress and in the time of death. Might Jesus have been singing his way through the psalms in his time of distress?

And if we continue through Psalm 22 and Psalm 23, all the way to Psalm 31, we find these words –
1. In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. 2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. 3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. 4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
Through the long journey of Psalm 22 to Psalm 31, might these words represent the final words Jesus says on the cross?

Jesus you took bread and broke it,
You shared it with your friends.
As you were broken to feed us with the bread of life.
Jesus you took wine and poured it out,
Grapes crushed and drained of life.
As you were crushed and drained of your life blood.
Jesus you prayed fervently in agony of spirit,
That God’s cup of suffering might pass away.
Your sweat fell like drops of blood yet you endured the pain.
You hung upon a tree and were crucified for us,
But looked in compassion on your murderers.
Look too in compassion on we who caused your suffering and your death.
Jesus you died for us and fell as a seed into the ground,
Knowing that your death would produce a plentiful harvest of new life.
May we too be willing to die to ourselves that others may find true and eternal life.
(c) Christine Sine, Godspace

aboriginal crucifixion

Christine Sine reflects: As I sat contemplating the events of the last day of Jesus life, I was struck as never before by the confusion, disillusionment and betrayal that Jesus followers must have felt as they watched him walk through his final hours. The powerful Messiah they had hoped for became instead a humble servant. The one they thought would be crowned as king was crowned instead with thorns. Crucified not worshipped.
Today many of us suffer the same disillusionment. Every time we turn around there is another report of chaos, death and suffering. We live in a broken world that desperately needs a saviour, but can a dead messiah who washed feet and welcomed lepers possibly be the Way, the Truth and the Life? This prayer comes out of these reflections.

Walk today into the wisdom of God.
Jesus does not mislead us.
He who is the Way,
will not guide us into blind alleys and desert wastes.
He who is the truth
does not mock us with deceit and lies.
He who is the life
will not betray us with delusions that bring death.
Let his wisdom sustain not just us
but all who are weary.
Let his strength give courage to all who endure,
So that none will falter or lose heart.
Let his faith bring light to all who believe,
So that together we will cry out for justice,
And live with grace and mercy.
Beyond brokenness is love inexhaustible,
Beyond death is love incomparable.
Breathe your spirit over the whole earth, O God,
Show us the hope of your resurrection world.
Make us your new creation. (Christine Sine, Godspace).

Christ Jesus you hung upon a cross and died for us,
So that we might live for you.
Your body was broken and your blood shed,
So that we might be healed and made whole.
You were faithful unto death ,
So that we might be faithful unto life.
Your last command was that we might love one another,
One family together from every tribe and nation,
A new creation united through your sacrifice.
Redeemed by your blood,
Healed by your love,
United by your covenant of peace.
In your death may we find life. (c) Christine Sine, Godspace

More from Christine Sine here.

An intercessory prayer for Good Friday by Rev Bosco Peters
Let us pray for the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of Christ throughout the world:
for its unity in witness and service,
for all bishops and other ministers
and the people whom they serve,
for N our bishop, and all the people of this diocese,
for all Christians in this community,
for those about to be baptised (particularly…),
that God will confirm the Church in faith, increase it in love, and preserve it in peace.


Faithful and compassionate God,
your Spirit guides the Church and makes it holy;
hear the prayers we offer,
that in the particular ministry
to which you have called us,
we may serve you faithfully,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us pray for all nations and peoples of the earth,
and for those in authority among them:
for N the Prime Minister
and for the government of this country,
for N our mayor
and those who serve with him/her on the council,
for all who serve the common good,
that by God’s help they may seek justice and truth,
that all might live in peace and harmony.


Faithful and compassionate God,
kindle, we pray, in every heart
the true love of peace,
and guide with your wisdom those in authority,
that justice, peace, and freedom may increase,
until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us pray for all who suffer:
for the hungry and the homeless,
the deprived and the oppressed,
for the sick, the wounded, and the handicapped,
for those in loneliness and in fear,
for those in confusion, doubt, and despair,
for the sorrowful and bereaved,
for prisoners,
and all at the point of death,
that God’s love will comfort and sustain them, and that we may be stirred up to minister to them.


Faithful and compassionate God,
the comfort of all who sorrow,
the strength of all who suffer,
hear the cry of all who call on you in any trouble,
grant them the joy
of receiving your help in their need,
and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us pray for all who do not believe the gospel of Christ:
for those who have never heard the message of
for those who have lost their faith,
for those who are indifferent to Christ,
for those who actively oppose Christ by word or deed,
and persecute Christ’s disciples,
for those who in the name of Christ have persecuted others,
that God will open their hearts to the truth, and lead them to faith and obedience.


Faithful and compassionate God,
you create and love all the peoples of the earth;
may your good news be so lived and proclaimed,
that all are brought home to your presence,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us commit ourselves to God,
and pray for the grace of a holy life,
that with all who have died in the peace of Christ,
and with those whose faith is known to God alone,
we may enter the fullness of life
in the joy of Christ’s resurrection.


God, our refuge and strength,
accept the fervent prayers of your people,
and bring to fulfilment your plan for all creation,
through Jesus Christ your First?]born,
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.


We walk the way that has no end (Tune: Winchester, Ride on Ride on in majesty)
We walk in silence while the earth
Quivers and cracks beneath our feet
Swallows our dreams and shatters worth
Solemn, we trudge to hearts’ dull beat.

We walk while singing, motley choir
of traitors, lovers, meek and proud
Small sparks of apostolic fire
light up the path, lighten the shroud.

We walk in solidarity
and sing of hope that never dies
We march to end disparity
graves open as our spirits rise.

We walk the way that has no end
Free to evolve, transform our creed
Hearts, torn like curtains, start to mend
Love rising now in word, in deed.

(optional verse)
There are no strangers on the way
Just travellers who will soon be friends
And destination —there is none:
A spiral path that never ends.
(Source: Bronwyn Angela White (2012)—Wellington, New Zealand)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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