Order of Service for Good Friday
Hymn TIS 345 v1 “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”
(sung by solo male voice unaccompanied leading procession of the cross,
first verse sung first by soloist,
then by whole congregation - only v1)
This morning we hear the story of Jesus and listen for our own story in that story.
As we tell the story from Mark members of the congregation will read scripted reflections on the theme,
expanding the role of various people of the story and connecting it to ours.
So let us sing that verse again.
Hymn TIS 345 v1 “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”
O God, all our sin, all our hatred, all our violence, all our apathy, all our convenient neglect,
came together in that dark hour when they snuffed out the light of your goodness,
when they crucified your Son, our Lord. And we come to remember.
O God, all your love, all your compassion, all your goodness, all your forgiveness,
came together in that life and that dying, your undying and unending love,
when they crucified you Son, our Lord. And we remember.
O God, all of his story, all of human history, all our story, repeats itself
where hate meets love, where injustice meets justice, where despair meets hope, death meets life,
and we dare to believe we were there when they crucified your Son, our Lord
and that this is none other than the way also to truth and life. And we remember. Amen
Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus,
he handed him over to be crucified.
16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace, that is, the governor's headquarters;
and they called together the whole cohort.
17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him.
18 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him.
20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him.
Then they led him out to crucify him.
(Mark 15:15-20 NRSV)
I was there among the soldiers mocking Jesus.
Barabbas is more my model. I admire strength.
Great people succeed. They win.
Jesus was a loser and deserved all the ridicule we heaped on him – some “king of the Jews”!
My God is great and almighty and that’s my model.
You have to have influence, make people serve your interests.
There’s not room for all of us. Some people are losers.
Bleeding heart reformers are just that: bleeding hearts.
Why should we care for foreigners in far away places who can’t feed themselves?
Tell them to get off their butt.
Why should we worry about future generations?
They’ll find a way of living when things hot up.
I’m still there. There’s lots of us.
It’s common sense really.
You don’t achieve anything by letting people get on top of you.
Music – only instrumental – one verse of “Were you there?”
They led Jesus out to crucify him.
21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross;
it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.
(Mark 15:21 NRSV)
In Simon of Cyrene I was there.
I didn’t mean to be there.
They grabbed me
and suddenly I was centre stage, carrying his cross.
I was going about my business.
I didn’t want to be involved.
I’m not at home there.
Take me back to my little village in Cyrene.
I still feel like that.
I like my faith to be private, just between me and God.
I don’t want trouble.
The big issues of changing a world, making it good news for the poor, are beyond me.
Yes I was there.
One thing I’m good at: carrying.
Yes, I carried the cross. I’m glad I did.
It was something I could do and most of the time no one really saw me. That was great.
Of course, I will tell my boys Alexander and Rufus about it when I’m back.
Hymn TIS 348 “Ride on, ride on in majesty”
22 Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).
23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.
24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
(Mark 15:22-24 NRSV)
In the offering of drugged wine I was there.
Oh yes, I was there. I offered drugged wine to relieve the pain.
I like relieving pain. What could be more important?
But sometimes I find myself doing it on the wrong occasions and this was one of them.
I know drugs ease pain and some drugs give people a lift.
Hard drugs soften the boredom.
Drinking binges help cope with the mad pressures of being young.
I have a wide repertoire of mechanisms for shutting people down,
distracting them from thinking, and feeling their own pain and the pain of others.
Better to be half alive and happy, I say, than living on the edge, taking risks, and getting involved.
Sometimes I dress myself up as religion to get people preoccupied with spiritual worlds
so they don’t see what’s going on in their own. That’s another of my drugs.
Oh yes, I was there; and I’m always around to give a helping hand.
Instrumental again one verse of “Were you there?”
25 It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him.
26 The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews."
27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.
28 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "
Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!"
31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "
He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now,
so that we may see and believe."
Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
(Mark 15:25-32 NRSV)
We were there, the two bandits.
Yes, we were there.
Very disappointing it was.
We had in a way shared the same platform with him.
He wanted justice and peace for our people, too.
He wanted the economic exploitation to stop, too.
He wanted the Romans out, too.
He wanted the temple bank to be more generous, too.
He wanted God’s empire not Rome’s, too,
but he wasn’t prepared to fight the enemy.
His way takes too long:
a couple of thousand years and you still won’t see much change!
You’ve got to learn to hate and keep your hate alive;
otherwise you’ll never succeed.
You need to know which people are for you and love them and
which people are against you and hate them,
like we hate criminals and anyone who doesn’t fit in.
We were there alright. We didn’t have a choice.
We had been brave. He had just been foolish.
You’ve got to learn to hate.
O God, forgive our willingness to hate.
O God, for give our willingness not to face reality,
the reality of our own pain, the pain of others, your pain.
O God, forgive our willingness to run away and not be involved where it really counts,
our willingness to play religion and refusal to carry any cross.
O God, forgive our willingness to prosper and gain at the expense of others,
others near us, others across the globe, others in future generations. Amen
Hymn TIS 342 “When I survey the wondrous cross”
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
34 At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"
which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah."
36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink,
saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down."
37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last,
he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!"
(Mark 15:33-39 NRSV)
I was there as the centurion, doing my job.
I carried a big responsibility, a hundred men in my charge.
Law and order and peace are my highest priorities,
especially when all these Jews gather on a festival weekend.
I have to keep the government line.
It is, after all, what most people want.
They don’t want trouble. That hasn’t changed.
People who want change are usually unhappy people who don’t fit in.
It’s important not to go to extremes, still today.
What matters most is the economy,
keeping Australians in work and prosperous.
Australia can’t afford these days to be thinking about anyone else but Australians
or any other generation but the current one.
(Pause) Yet he baffled me.
I was doing my duty. How could I have got it so wrong?
Truly he was the Son of God.
Instrumental again one verse of “Were you there?”
40 There were also women looking on from a distance;
among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.
41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee;
and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
(Mark 15:40-41 NRSV)
I was there among the women.
There was a place for us, a safe place.
He didn’t leer at us as sex objects or distance from us fearing our femininity.
We didn’t have to be confined and controlled.
So we could be there, too.
And we were there at the end,
even when the men fled for their lives.
When he spoke of God as compassionate and wanting always what was best for people,
we, as mothers, could easily tune into that.
God is like one of us mums at our best, firm but never abandoning our kids.
We were there when he told the rich man that the only way to eternal life was to share God’s own life of goodness.
We were there when he got Zacchaeus down from the tree and changed the way he used his heart and his wallet.
We were there when they wanted to stone that wayward woman and he gave her a new start.
We were there when he gave all us women a new start,
defying the forces then and now that allow a new start only from a lower rung of the ladder.
Musical Piece by Choir with a particular focus on Jesus on the cross.
(It effectively replaces the reading)
I was there with Jesus, right there with Jesus.
I know about killing love. I have done it in myself. (Pause)
That was me hanging there. He was telling my story.
I was crucified with Christ. (Pause)
It wasn’t his sin; it was mine.
I’m the one who kills love –
love towards others, love toward God, love towards myself.
He died for me.
This is my story, whenever I close my heart to compassion,
whenever I put others down
or put myself down.
I’m right there
and he’s showing me my hate
and he’s showing me my love.
They come together in a way that has me seeing myself in a dark mirror.
That’s me – (slowly) my hate, my love;
my killing, my dying – in my face!
I was there. I am there.
O God, you hold a mirror before us
and we see love and we see hate.
We see crucifiers and we see the crucified.
Forgive us where we have crucified love – your love for ourselves, for others, for you.
Do not abandon us where we have abandoned ourselves,
where others have abandoned us, where we know the pain of crucifixion and rejection and being forsaken.
Take us from the cross to hope and new beginning.
Hymn TIS 339 “O sacred head”
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council,
who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God,
went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus
44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead;
and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time.
45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.
46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body,
wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.
He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
(Mark 15:142-46 NRSV)
I was there in Joseph. Yes, I was there.
I could not bear to see his mangled body left there
for jumping dogs to tear and birds to peck to pieces.
I have a special place, precious to me and my family.
It’s our tomb, our cavern.
The least I could do was take him down and bring him into that special place.
I would do it again. (Pause)
I want to take him into my secret cavern, my special place, my heart.
There I want to lay him to rest on my stone slab,
the stone slab of my heart.
I want him there today and
I want him to come alive in me.
Hymn TIS 345 1-5 “Were you there” (but not v. 6)
Prayer and Benediction
Only instrumental: “Were you there?”
prepared by William Loader
*The same person does all Readings. 8 Different people read the Reflections. Gender need not match.