Worship Connection: Good Friday 2017

March 15th, 2017

Good Friday 

[Note: Good Friday is the time of remembrance of Jesus' Crucifixion and Burial. The following service focuses on the "Approaching Darkness", before the dawn of Easter. Liturgy, Music, and Visual arts reflect the darkening time. There is no closing music - the people leave in silence]

[Begin the service with full lighting in the sanctuary. Follow the prompts in the service for the gradual dimming, or shutting off of the electric lights, so that darkness may approach the worship center]

GATHERING MUSIC:
"Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed" UMH 294
"Thou Didst Leave thy Throne" FWS 2100

Call to Worship:

L: We gather tonight in the shadow of the Cross.

P: Evil abounds. Jesus goes forth to suffer and die.

L: How we tremble with fear!

P: How we weep.

L: Why have we forsaken Him?

P: Why have we betrayed and run from his Passion?

L: Lord, have mercy upon us.

P: Christ, have mercy upon us.

READING: Portions of Psalm 22

Reader in the back of the congregation:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

**Song: "Ah, Holy Jesus" UMH 289 Verses 1 & 2

[Dim a few lights, but leave sufficient lighting for the people to easily read their music]

Reader from the right side of the congregation:

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shriveled; 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. But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the Dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

**Song "Ah, Holy Jesus" UMH 289, verses 3 & 4

PRAYER:
Lord, we come before you in the approaching darkness of our souls. We have traveled this Lenten journey, overcoming and conquering barriers that have kept us from serving you. We gathered at the gates of joy on Palm Sunday, and feasted at the Lord's Table yesterday. But today is a different story. We witness the arrest and trial of the Innocent Savior. We watch as he is moved brutally from place to place, to be judged by people who have hardened their hearts against you. The sorrow that we feel lies heavy upon us. Lift us, Lord. Comfort us. Help us get through this time of darkness. AMEN.

[Gradually shut off the sanctuary lights. All the sanctuary lights should be off following the singing of "Were You There" leaving only the candles of the remaining readers. The readers may have pen lights (small flashlights. Each reader will extinguish the candle after their speech. The readers should be able to move from their speaking place to a chair, and remain there until most of the congregation has left at the end of the service. There is to be no talking until they have left the sanctuary]

THE SEVEN CANDLES AND THE APPROACHING DARKNESS
a dramatic presentation of the Crucifixion

[Note: these monologs are meant to be read by very good readers. It is important for them to have an opportunity to rehearse together, so that they can sense each other's timing]

[Note: Extinguish one candle after each speech is given, with the exception of the large white pillar candle in front of the cross]

A member of the Sanhedrin:
This is not a good time. This Jesus came, proclaiming a new law, said he was the King of the Jews. That's dangerous talk. We have a very tentative peace with the Romans. They let us alone to practice our faith and we obey their laws. It is uncomfortable and we long for the avenging Messiah, but it isn't this wilderness preacher. He makes me nervous. He is chipping away at what little peace we have. If he destroys this peace, he will destroy God's people. We can't risk it, no matter how the crowds love him. We just can't risk it.

[the 1st candle is extinguished]

Woman disciple:
I can't believe this. He has done nothing wrong. He healed people, he taught them the lessons of life; he gave new hope. What is wrong with that? How is that a threat to our faith? How is that a threat to the Roman authority? I was at the table, bringing the food for the supper last evening. He was so serious, sad. The disciples didn't know what to make of his actions. He washed their feet and told them that they had to be like servants if they wanted to serve the Master. He took the loaf of leftover bread and broke it and gave it to them to eat, telling them it was representing his body which was broken for them. He didn't know it, but we women in the background also took bread as he was speaking. He passed the cup to them and reminded them of the new covenant, a new relationship between each of them and God, and said that it was like his blood which would be poured out for them. They dipped their bread in the cup and ate it. So did we. It was awful. I wanted to run, but I couldn't leave. I followed him to the garden of prayer, but at a respectful distance. Hidden in the dark of the bushes, I witnessed the parade of soldiers, the torches, and his capture. My God, my God, what has happened! How could this be?

[the 2nd candle is extinguished]

Song: "Go to Dark Gethsemane" UMH 290 verses 1 & 2

Soldier:
I do what I'm told. They assigned us to go and bring back this wilderness rabble-rouser, Jesus from Nazareth. So I went. I didn't see anything particularly threatening about him. His buddy, Judas, was the one who told the authorities where we could find him. He got paid - in silver. I don't like that business - paying for a life. He didn't seem surprised, but he did seem disappointed when this Judas kissed him on the cheek. One of his disciples drew a sword and cut off the ear of one of the servants who accompanied us. I've got to tell you, I could hardly believe what I saw. Jesus put his hands on the man's ear and it was healed. Healed! I shook my head - must be the night air, I thought. It really couldn't have happened. No matter. My job was to bring him in. He didn't struggle and we shuttled him back and forth between the religious authorities, Annas and Caiaphas, and Pilate, the procurator, the Roman law in these parts. After that, we were dismissed for a while.

[Extinguish the 3rd candle]

Woman in the courtyard:
I knew who that tall, muscular man was, all right! I'd seen him with the others who followed this Jesus. I heard the whisperings from the others all around, but I was the only one who was brave enough to speak up. "You're one of his disciples, aren't you?" I said to him. "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know him", he growled at me. I knew that I was right and I wasn't going to let it be. I challenged him again, and again he told me that he didn't know this Jesus. Okay, one more try. "Are you not one of this man's disciples?" "I am not". And then a strange silence fell over the area. You could hear a rooster crowing. The man turned ghastly white and ran away. He was guilty of something. Probably more guilty than anything these authorities can drum up against the one they captured tonight.

[Extinguish the 4th candle]

**Song "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" UMH 286, verses 1 & 2

Pilate:
These people are going to drive me crazy. They are in an uproar because of some wilderness preacher. I examined him, asked him pointed, direct questions. His answers puzzled me, but I really could not find any reason why he should be brought before me. He did not commit a crime against our Roman government. He was just a thorn in the hide for the Jewish religious authorities. They wanted to have him killed and by their law, they couldn't do it. They wanted to take care of the matter for them. Scapegoat! That's what he was! I asked him if he was the King of the Jews, a charge the religious people were trying to pin against him so that I would do something. You know Caesar is our king. Anyway, he said "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice". Doesn't sound too treasonous to me. I had him flogged, thinking that would placate their blood lust. The soldiers played a little game with him. They stripped him, flogged him, put an old purple cloak on him and someone made a crown out of thorn bushes and jammed it on his head. They shouted "Hail, King of the Jews!" and spit at him. Well, they were just having a little jest with him. I finally had to do something. The crowds were getting out of hand, demanding the extreme punishment, crucifixion. I gave them a choice, Barabbas, a murderer in our custody, or this flogged and bleeding Jesus. To my surprise, they chose Barabbas, and I had to wash my hands of the whole deal. They made their choice. It was over. But, is it? Is it really over? I think not.

[Extinguish the 5th candle]

Woman at the crucifixion:
The crowds that had cheered at his entrance to Jerusalem, now jeered him as he dragged his heavy cross to the place of crucifixion. It was Golgotha, the Skull, a place where the vilest criminals were nailed to a cross and died a slow and agonizing death. My God, it was so horrible. How could they do this to him? He had done nothing wrong? How could God let this happen to this kind healer? My heart was breaking. He had healed me of a host of diseases when all others had given up. He looked at me, smiled, and told me of God's love for me......for me? And I could feel that love, God's love, pouring over me. It was unlike anything I had known before. I left everything and followed Jesus, like so many others. The words of compassion, the healing love, the reminders of how God wants us to live - I could listen to Jesus forever. My soul was healed; my spirit was restored. But now, now it was being dragged with him to Golgotha. He stumbled and fell. A strange man was grabbed from the crowd and forced to carry the heavy cross when Jesus could no longer do it. I couldn't break away. I followed. My God, I followed...... I stood near his mother, and Mary Magdalene, and John. And we watched and wept. But no one made us leave.

[Extinguish the 6th candle]

**Song "Were You There" UMH 288 verses 1-3

[Shut off all sanctuary lights, leaving only the candles of the readers' for lighting]

[Note: the person who reads the part of Jesus should pause between each phrase. The very last phrase should be shouted. ]

Jesus:
"My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?"
"Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing?
"Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother"
"I am thirsty"
"It is finished!"
" Father, Into your hands I commend my spirit!

[Someone other than Jesus extinguish the Christ Candle. Thunder, or loud crashing sound at the same time the candle is extinguished should be heard]

[In the darkness have someone read the following:]

Reader:
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and their bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this had testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled. "None of his bones shall be broken." After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, tough a secret one because of his fear of the authorities, 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 customs 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.

[SILENCE - the people can leave as they are moved to do so]

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