Worship Elements: Good Friday 2022

September 2nd, 2021

COLOR: Black or None
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 52:13–53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25 (16-23); John 18:1–19:42


Good Friday is the most somber day of the Christian year. It has only one theme and only one event in mind: Jesus’ death. The flow of the service should systematically emphasize the progression toward death at Golgotha with the service finally ending on the proclamation that the world got what it wanted. Resist the temptation to point toward the hope that comes at Easter. That is for another day. Today is about the Christian doctrine that Jesus did indeed die, and that his death was painful.


Call to Worship (Psalm 22)

(With each repetitive phrase, the worship leader should get progressively louder, until the last question is almost a demand.)

Sisters and brothers, why are we here tonight (today)?
To tell what Jesus did in the midst of our brokenness.
Sisters and brothers, why are we here tonight?
To give our praise in the midst of our pain.
Sisters and brothers, why are we here tonight?
To seek the Lord and give God our praise.
Sisters and brothers, why are we here tonight?
To join with the families of the earth
as we worship the Holy One.

Opening Prayer (Hebrews 10)

Almighty God,
we would be lying to you and deceiving ourselves
if we pretended to be joyful and satisfied tonight (today).
We are not.
The violent pain that our friend Christ Jesus endured
makes us want to hide and wait until it is over;
it makes us wish to ignore his wounds altogether.
Yet in the miracle of grace, you have drawn us here,
along with millions of others around the earth,
that we might remember Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice
and covenant of grace.
As we worship you tonight
and undertake the ancient work of remembering,
we ask that you open our hearts to feel anew
exactly why this is called “Good Friday.”
In the name of Christ our Lord, amen.


Prayer of Confession (Isaiah 52–53, John 18–19)

(This is designed for two readers. Reader 1 on the chancel and Reader 2 on the sanctuary floor, preferably in the midst of the people.)

He has borne and carried the evil of our hearts.
He has borne my evil.
Because of our transgressions, he was wounded.
Because of my hate, prejudice, immorality,
greed, lying, intolerance, and blasphemy,
he was wounded.

Our iniquities crushed him and . . .
(cutting off Reader 1)
I crushed him! I drove the nails.
I wove the thorny crown. I pierced his side.
I shouted “crucify him.”

The Lord laid it all on him—
all our iniquity, punishment, and guilt.
He heaped the ugliest part of us
onto his amazing beauty.
With every puncture, each whip stroke,
at every cry of anguish
and innumerable flinch of pain,
in every wound and bruise,
he was healing the brokenness
of my sinful soul.

Words of Assurance (Hebrews 10)

We are guilty, but God is faithful.
In this faithfulness, God chose to remember
our lawlessness no longer.
Through Christ, our sins—yours and mine—
are not only forgiven, they are forgotten.
Christ blotted out the ledger book with his love.

Response to the Word (Isaiah 52-53, John 18-19)

The Word hung between heaven and earth
on a splintery cross. At the place where two wooden
beams intersected, sin and salvation also intersected.
It astonishes us—why would Christ do this?
The Word bled, shouted, and died.
He startled us—what kind of love is this?
The Word has broken our hearts.
The tragic sorrow marks our faces with shame.


Invitation to the Offering (Hebrews 10, John 18–19)

Was there anything Jesus did not give, as he died on Calvary? Did he withhold anything as he set our spirits free from fear? The answer is no, he gave it all. Now, what will you give, in light of one who died on a tree?

Offering Prayer (Hebrews 10)

As your love brought us healing,
may our gifts be used to heal.
As your sacrifice brought us salvation,
may our sacrifices be used to save.
As your offering feeds our souls,
may our offering feed the hungry.
As you willingly gave yourself,
may we give faithfully of ourselves.


Benediction (John 18–19)

“Crucify him,” they scream,
and crucify him they do.
Pierce his side and watch him bleed.
Make certain he is dead.
They murder an innocent man on the cross.
We murder him with our sins.
We walk away from here with stained hands
and bruised hearts.
But it does not matter who did it.
It is Friday. He is dead.
Jesus is dead.
God is dead.
Did we get what we really wanted?

(W. H. Auden’s Poem, “Stop All the Clocks” may also be read at the end of this service.)


Contemporary Gathering Words (Isaiah 53)

Come, behold the man of suffering.
We have come.
Come, look at his appearance.
We have come.
Come, gather around the cross to see him.
We have come.
Come, weep as the curtain falls
over the light of the world.
We have come.
We see.
We behold.
We weep.

Praise Sentences (Psalm 22, Isaiah 52–53, John 18–19)

The ironic plaque said it all:
The King of the Jews.
The King of the Jews:
The Lord of the Church.
The King of Kings:
The Lord of Creation,
exalted and lifted up.

From The Abingdon Worship Annual 2012, edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu
Copyright © 2011 by Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. 

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