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The following is a Good Friday Worship Service written by Charlene Fairchild & Richard Fairchild. It is based on the events of Holy Week - looked at from the Apostle Peter's viewpoint. This service has been conducted with great success. It is recommended that Peter be robed in a long "black" Geneva Gown or other custume suitable for the night.
The "Reflections" are provided as guides for the Actor / Presenter. This service is best done by the Actor preparing one small flash card for each "reflection" and then telling the tale "ex-temporarily".
Supplies needed included several candles - which should be burning just prior to the service. They will be extinguished during the service by the Narrator who reads the scripture lessons or by one other designated person. Lighting in the sanctuary should be low. A bulletin can be easily prepared for the congregation - using this outline - and omitting the text of the readings and reflections.
MUSICAL PRELUDE & WORDS OF WELCOME INTRODUCTION TO THE SERVICE * HYMN: "Beneath The Cross of Jesus" * CALL TO WORSHIP AND OPENING PRAYER L: We gather tonight before the cross in sorrow and in shame. We look for forgiveness, strength and mercy - though we know we deserve none. P: We gather to remember how it was the day that our Saviour died to remember, to mourn, and to try to understand what happened that day, the day that Jesus showed the depth of his love for us by suffering and dying in our place. L: Let us pray -- Father, our hearts are heavy as we gather in the name of our crucified Lord. P: He died for our sins. L: We watch with horror as we see him hanging on the cross P: He died for our sins. L: We see the evil in the world around him. P: He died for our sins. L: We, too, Father, have denied our Lord. P: He died for our sins. L: We, too, have betrayed our Lord. P: He died for our sins. Forgive us, Lord, and love us still. Amen. READING: MATTHEW 27:15-36 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?" For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him." Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." Pilate said to them, "Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" All of them said, "Let him be crucified!" Then he asked, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!" So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." Then the people as a whole answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 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. ANTHEM: "The Love That Clothes Itself In Light" (verses 1-3, VU 137) REFLECTION Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there that Passover week? No? Well let me tell you about it. I, Peter, was with Jesus and my brother disciples and the women disciples who came up with us to Jerusalem for the Feast. We had just been to Bethany where Lazarus was raised from the Dead and everyone was still so excited about that. Word had gone out all over the place about Lazarus. Some of the crowd that came to Jesus to hear him teach and see the miracle worker found out that we were going up to Jerusalem for Passover. Some of them even started whispering about proclaiming Jesus as King-Messiah while we were there. I know. I heard some of this talk. A part of me thrilled to the idea. Jesus would triumph over those Romans and rid this land of them. But the Jesus I knew didn't talk that way. I remember him saying: "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." True it is that I didn't like those words and a part of me must have denied them. But, nevertheless, I remember feeling anxious about this trip. I had this sense of foreboding. I wanted to get in and out of Jerusalem as quickly as we could. It was far safer to be away from the center of things. Out from under the watchful eyes. It was a beautiful morning. We were up early at dawn to break our fast and prepare for the walk into Jerusalem. We would go to the city for the day and return to Mary and Martha and Lazarus in Bethany at night. It was only about a mile and a half, maybe two to walk up to Jerusalem's gates. Jesus, as was his custom, was up before us and off by himself to pray. When he returned to us he asked if we had eaten. Then he sent a couple of us off to go ahead to Bethphage at the foot of the Mount of Olives. He told them: "Go into the village and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it." And it was so. They brought the colt back. I was starting to get a little wound up and excited. This was truly different. Jesus was going to ride up to Jerusalem like a nobleman on an ass, the symbol of peace. We spread our garments on the colt's back and started walking. People began to tear off palm branches and spread them on the ground before us. Shouts rang out like they do at all the Feasts. "Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Then they began to sing and shout: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven." and "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord -- the King of Israel." It was much, much later when I recalled the words of the prophet Zechariah: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." It was written of him in the Book and it happened. I was there. FIRST CANDLE EXTINGUISHED (As All Sing - Verse 1 of Were You There?) Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there) Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble Were you there when they crucified my Lord? REFLECTION The events of that last week are still a jumble in my head. Sometimes one thing leaps out at me; sometimes another. Jesus did a lot of teaching that week. In the temple, as we walked to and from the city and when we were back in Bethany at night. He told us about things that didn't make sense until afterwards. I guess we were a little slow to hear. But he taught us so much that week that has stayed in our memories. I remember the first day of Unleavened Bread, the day on which we had to sacrifice the Passover lamb. Jesus sent John and I to prepare the meal. We made ready the upper room where Jesus had said we would find it and checked every corner to make sure no leaven was present. Then we bought wine and herbs and unleavened bread. Next we went out and purchased a lamb to take to the temple to offer the Passover sacrifice at twilight. Everybody else in Jerusalem was there for the same reason so it took no little time for the lamb to be killed and the blood to be drained, then the body skinned and cleaned and all the fat cut off and burned before the lamb was roasted whole. Passover in Jerusalem. Noisy. All kinds of startled bleats and strange voices and languages. Every one anxious for the Feast. Hot and smoky with the smells of blood and burning fat. I was more than ready to go outside into the cool evening air and back to the Upper Room. Jesus and the others came in shortly after we got back. Everyone was talking at once, telling about their day. In the midst of the hubbub, it suddenly got quiet. Jesus had taken off his outer robe and tied a towel around his waist and was pouring water from the pitcher into a basin. He went over to Philip, knelt down and washed his feet. Philip sat there with a stunned look. Jesus turned to Andrew and did the same. Around the room he went. When he got to me, I stopped him and said, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" He looked at me and said, very patiently, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later on you will understand." I couldn't believe it. "You will never wash my feet," I almost shouted. Jesus, in that very calm and commanding way of his just said, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." That was all it took. Then my impetuous side overcame me. The words were out before I could think. "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus called me back down to earth. "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are all clean, though not all of you." I heard those last words as if in a trance while Jesus picked up first one foot and then the other and washed away the dust and the grime they had picked up that day. Washed them like a servant. When he was done he explained to us why he had become our servant. "I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." The King of heaven kneeling at the feet of his friends, washing their feet. I know. I was there. SECOND CANDLE EXTINGUISHED (As All Sing - Verse 1 of Were You There?) ANTHEM: "Shadows Gather, Deep and Cold" (VU #134) REFLECTION When Jesus was finished things settled down and got back to normal. We began to set the food out on the table and take our places. We sang one of the Passover hymns from the Hillel: "Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time on and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised." We remembered Israel in Egypt and the night the Angel of the Lord passed over the firstborn of the Children of Israel. We rejoiced in God who 'with his strong hand brought us out of Egypt.' as we recounted the story in answer to the question, "Why is this night different from every other night?" While we were doing thus Jesus became very troubled. His somberness caught our attention. We became quiet and waited. At last he said, "Very truly I tell you, one of you will betray me." Heads shook as we turned to look at each other. What did he mean? Who was he talking about? I motioned to John who was sitting next to Jesus, to get him to ask Jesus who he was speaking of. I saw John ask. I strained to hear. "It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." The hairs on my body stood on end. I had goose bumps. The blood rushed from my head as I saw Jesus pass the piece to Judas. Jesus leaned over and spoke to him and he left. I was stunned. John looked like he had been hit by an escaped bull. Everyone else started murmuring about Judas going out to do some of Jesus bidding. Nobody else seemed to have caught on or heard. I felt disoriented. James must have told a joke. The others beside him were laughing. Everyone but John and Jesus and I resumed eating and talking. I didn't know what to think about this. Had I imagined it? I didn't have a lot of time to muse, though, as at that moment Jesus called for quiet. He picked up one of the round flat Pita breads and he blessed it. Then he broke it - tearing it in pieces and handed it around to us saying: "Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Afterwards in the same manner he took the cup in front of him and he gave thanks and said: "This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." as he passed the cup. We all drank from the cup. I heard Jesus saying something about not drinking of the vine again until he drank it anew in the Kingdom of God. It was a very special time. I know. I was there. THIRD CANDLE EXTINGUISHED (As All Sing - Verse 1 of Were You There?) REFLECTION Very shortly after supper we headed out across the Kidron Valley to the Garden on the Mount of Olives. We were singing hymns along the way but quietly as the night was getting later. I still remember the words of that psalm: "O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?... I was pushed so hard that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation..." I often wonder if Jesus took strength from those words during those last hours in the Garden of Gethsemane where the olive trees grow. Sometimes I think about him being surrounded by the trees and fruit from which the anointing oil is made during those last precious moments before he was taken like a criminal. While we were walking along, Jesus told us: "You will all become deserters; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." That's when I claimed in my pride and arrogance, "Even though all become deserters, I will not." Jesus said to me, "Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." I don't know why I had to argue with him, what fantasies drove me to think that I was so powerful, so courageous on my own, but I heard myself - I still hear myself - say, vehemently: "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." The rest of them said it with me. We were so sure. When we arrived at our usual place Jesus indicated that he was going to pray. He said to all of us: "Pray that you may not come into the time of trial. Sit here while I pray." He motioned to James and John and myself to go on further into the garden with him. He was very upset, very anxious, pacing a little as he spoke. "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and keep awake." He went a little further and he threw himself on the ground. I watched him do it as if in slow motion. I heard him ever so faintly but I could just make it out: "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible. If you are willing, remove this cup from me, yet, not my will but yours be done." My emotions had been stretched so much this week and this day that I suddenly felt drowsy and before I knew it I had drifted off to sleep. The next thing I knew was Jesus standing over me saying: "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come to the tome of trial; the spirit indeed is willing Simon, but the flesh is weak." He went away again and prayed as before. I started to pray myself and again I nodded my head in sleep. Jesus woke us up. We didn't know what to say. I felt ashamed. He went back to praying. We went back to sleeping. At last he came again and he said to us, " are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour is come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand." While Jesus was speaking we could hear the commotion of a crowd coming towards us. There was Judas with a bunch of men carrying clubs and swords and the officers of the temple police and the elders. Judas called out: "Rabbi!" and went up to Jesus and kissed him. The men with clubs laid hold of Jesus to arrest him. That's when everything got a little crazy. I drew the sword I had hidden away and sliced off the right ear of the high priest's slave. Jesus told me to put my sword away. "Am I not to drink the cup that the father has given me?" That's when they began to bind Jesus with cords and the menace of the crowd grew. All of us began to slip away as quickly as we could. I withdrew far enough for safety and to watch. As they began to move away, I followed to see where they were taking Jesus. This really happened. I know. I was there. FOURTH CANDLE EXTINGUISHED (As All Sing - Verse 1 of Were You There?) ANTHEM: "Bitter Was The Night" (Voices United #132) REFLECTION Sure enough. They took Jesus to the high priest's house. It looked like there was quite a crowd assembled. All the lights were on inside and every few moments there was coming and going from the inside. I managed to get in to the courtyard and I went and sat, as nonchalantly as I could, with the guards as they warmed themselves around the fire. I tried to be inconspicuous. I just listened to everything. One of the servant girls began to stare at me and came over and she said, "You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth." I looked at her and shook my head and said, "I do not know or understand what you are talking about." She went away and I breathed again. I walked out to the forecourt to stay out of the way. The cock crowed. After a while another servant-girl came along and she began to tell the rest standing around there that: "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." I swore an oath and said, "I do not know the man." That seemed to shut her up. A few moments later one of those bystanders came up to me and said, " Certainly you are one of them, for your accent betrays you. You are a Galilean." That did it! I began to curse and I swore an oath that I did not know this man! As I finished speaking the cock crowed again. The Lord turned and looked at me. Then I remembered. I remembered what Jesus had said - that before the cock crowed twice I would deny him three times. I broke. Great shuddering heaves seized me and the tears blinded me as I tore out of the courtyard and down the narrow streets. Running. Running I do not know where. Sobbing. Heaving. Shamed to the core. Bitterly with bile in my throat heaving great pangs of agony as I ran. I know. I was there. FIFTH CANDLE EXTINGUISHED (As All Sing - Verse 1 of Were You There?) ANTHEM: "They Crucified My Lord" (Voices United #141) REFLECTION I don't remember the dawn. I just know that after a while I realized that it was day. I was wandering around in a daze in the lower city. I realized that I didn't know what was happening. I was so caught up in my own grief that I forgot all about Jesus and what he must be going through. I had to find out. I started back up towards the High Priest's house. When I got there someone told me that they had taken him to Pilate, the Roman governor. That didn't sound good. Nearing the Governor's palace I heard all kinds of noise and shouting. The crowd was really worked up. I heard the shouts: "Crucify him! Crucify him!" As I jostled through the crowd I could see Jesus standing beside the governor. He looked awful. A crown of thorns on his head. Blood on his face. Pale like he was in shock. He seemed to sway as he stood there. Pilate raised his hands. The crowd quieted a little. "All right. I give you my decision. Barrabas goes free. This 'King of the Jews, this Jesus, is to be crucified." The crowd cheered. My heart sank. It was then that I got really angry at God. Why, oh why have you forsaken him? Why? Where are you God? This is supposed to be your Son, the Messiah. Why does he have to die? These thoughts and others swirled around inside. I didn't even notice that the crowd seemed to be moving at first. Then I heard the harsh shouts of the Roman soldiers making a way through the crowds. Pressed up against my neighbours I watched as I saw the wood of a cross come towards me. Then I saw my Lord slumped under its weight not six feet from me. He looked up at me and all my anger at God dissipated. The last time I saw those eyes I had denied him myself. Now those eyes, glazed with pain, were looking into my soul. Why was it him and not me? I still didn't understand. I was scared and I, too, was in shock. Everything was happening so fast. My Lord was going to die. Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there? Sometimes, it causes me to tremble. I know. I was there. SIXTH CANDLE EXTINGUISHED (As All Sing - Verse 1 of Were You There?) READING: MARK 15:25-37, JOHN 19:38-42 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." And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days,save yourself, and come down from the cross! 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. 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. When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 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?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah." 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." Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. SEVENTH CANDLE EXTINGUISHED (As All Sing - Verse 1 of Were You There?) SILENT MEDITATION READING: JOHN 19:38-42 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. ANTHEM: "The Love That Clothes Itself In Light" (verses 4-5, Voices United #137) DEPARTING PRAYER (unison) L: Lord, as we depart tonight help us reflect in our hearts upon who you are and what you have done for us. Help us to understand - and understanding, to accept your love and your forgiveness. P: Make us a people who have your faith and your courage during the time of darkness, a people who, like you, walk in humble obedience to the Father's will. Amen ALL DEPART IN SILENCE copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild & Charlene E. Fairchild 1998 - 2006 please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.
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