April 2, 2021

Good Friday: Stations of the Cross (click here)

Passage: Matthew 26: 36-46; John 18:  28- 19: 16; Mark 15: 15-20;
Service Type:

Good Friday:   Stations of the Cross

Welcome to this Good Friday Service.  You may watch the video of the journey through the Stations, or scroll down to keep reading as suits your preference.  May you be blessed as you worship with us this day.

(click the blue text above to view the video)

Preamble:

Today is one of the grey areas of the Christian year:  a day when the lights are dimmed and the sky feels overcast even if it isn’t:  a day when believers feel as if a heavy veil is drawn over heart and mind.  An inexplicably sad day.

Opening Prayer:

Holy God, as we encounter Jesus on this journey, we are reminded that we will follow in his footsteps.  Even as he did not shrink from the sorrow, shame and pain of the journey, help us, as we stop and remember, to know what he felt, what he paid and how he suffered on our behalf.   Amen

 

Station 1:  Jesus in the Garden

Preamble:  Every journey begins with preparation.  We pause here to prepare with Jesus, to pray, to wait and to watch.  Do we sense how deeply he agonized about this last thing that God had asked of him?  Let us stay awake with him.

Scripture:  Matthew 26: 36-46

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

 

Silence

Prayer:

O Lord, forgive us.  We read this account and we know that we are also the ones who do not stay awake with Jesus in the agony of his temptation.  We are always pleading that you and the people around us support us when we are feeling lost and alone and when we are struggling with a decision.

We are humbled to realize that our struggles, our day to day decisions are minor in comparison to the Temptation that Jesus endured in the Garden that night.  To obey, or not to obey.  To trust that you know what you are doing.   To know in his soul that you walked with him even in the valley of death.

We remember his struggle.  And we thank you.  We remember his agony, and we thank you.  We remember his obedience and we pray that we too will be obedient to you all the days of our lives.

In Jesus name.  Amen

 

Station 2  Jesus and Pilate

Preamble:  In the grey light of early morning -after a night in the ecclesiastical high court, and denial by one of his own circle - Jesus found himself at the gates of the reluctant Pilate, who promptly tried to hand him back to the Jews.

John 18:  28- 19: 16

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them.

19

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

Silence

Could we do it God?  Could we stand before an accuser who lies, and be silent?

Could we trust that you have control of the chaos that swirls around us?

We fear God, that in the same position we would demand that the lies be stopped.  WE would want our say, our day in court.  We would ask for the best lawyer available.

Do you hear us God?  We would, we would, we would.  All the things we would do as if we had any control.

Help us to walk with Jesus, saying we trust, we trust, we trust.
Help us to stand confidently knowing that our worth comes from you and not from what we can do for ourselves.  Help us to know that what people say is of no importance, but that what you say is the only important thing.

Help us, O God to endure, as he endured. Amen.

 

 

Station 3:  The Crown of Thorns

Preamble:  And though the sun rose that morning, the whole world turned grey for One who found himself without friend or helper, faced with drinking a cup he’d prayed would be turned away from him, knowing that life was about to be drained out of him.

 

Mark 15: 15-20

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Silence

We wonder, O God, had we been in the crowd that day what would we have said and done?  As the crowd cried for Barabbas to be freed, and for Jesus to be crucified would we have stood silently?  Would we have added our voices to the fray?  When Jesus was flogged, then mocked, would we have turned our faces away?

We confess that we have chosen ease over the cost of discipleship, indolence over action, we have turned away from injustice, all the while knowing that Christ’s hands and feet are our own. Lord, have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us.  Amen

 

Station 4  The burden of the Cross

Preamble:  We are invited to accompany Jesus through this grey day: to be witnesses to his suffering, to keep silence before his cry of dereliction.  In our imaginations, let us trudge through Jerusalem, until we come to the place of the Cross: and then, let us not turn our faces away.

John 19: 15-17

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

Silence

We watch you go, exhausted, bleeding, hurting in every part of your being.  We watch as the burden of the cross is placed on your torn back.  And we wonder, who is there for you right now?  Who encourages you in this painful journey?

We confess O Jesus, that when our journey gets long, or the pain of it feels overwhelming we come to you for help, and you give it.  But do we remember how often you needed help and we withheld it?

We are humbled as we witness the evidence of the depth of your love and your grace.  Call us forth, that we too may learn to walk the journey with love and with grace.   Amen.

 

Station 5  Simon of Cyrene

Preamble:  In this grey day lie all the sorrows and failings of a humanity that strives for high success, yet comes up against human limitations, and falls to the ground in despair.  No one stepped forward to help, not one person offered assistance with the burden.  Jesus could go no further.  Do we understand how bone weary he is?  That he is already enduring the limits of human exhaustion?

 

Matthew 27: 32

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Silence

Prayer:  How often O Lord, have you urged us to take up our cross and follow you?  We confess our reluctance.  We see what the burden of the cross did to you.  You could not bear to carry the weight and the one who carried if for you was forced to.  Our guilt O God, is before us.  Not willing to carry the cross.  Choosing the easy way.  Not taking the risks of being a follower.  Forgive us and give us a new heart and a new vision, a new willingness to bear the cross for the one who bore the cross for us.  Amen.

 

Station 6:  Stripped of Garments

Preamble:  Here is a day marked by indignity.  Betrayed, reviled, abused and abandoned Jesus is punished, paraded and crucified like a common criminal.  The King is stripped.  Naked, he is nailed to the cross, and in the background his captors gamble for his clothing.  We see Jesus reduced to nothing, and this day we feel that pain, because for us, he is everything.

 

John 19: 19-24

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”[a]

So this is what the soldiers did.

 

Silence

Prayer:  Yours was a naked death, Jesus:     Not for you the fine linen of a rich bed surrounded by wealth accumulated over a comfortable lifetime.  Not for you a well prepared service of farewell with time for proper grieving and departures.

Not for you a carefully chosen shroud, or a tenderly nurtured grave.  When you kept your rendezvous with death  all was stripped away except your determined love and the life that was freely given for those who plotted to harm you.  We stand in awe of the depth of that love, and we pray that it will be reborn in us.  Amen.

 

Station 7:  Death

Preamble:   Here is a day marked by the brokenness of the world.  But it is not a day to wallow in misery, or to indulge in morbid thoughts about the crucifixion.  It is simply a somber, dignified day when we remember how it was for Jesus, and find at the foot of the cross a place to lay down ours and the world’s sorrow.

Luke 23: 32- 54

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[e] When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Silence

 

Prayer:  God of endings, today we hear the agonized words “It is finished”.  Today we think of all those things that are stopped before they come to fruition, of hopes crushed beneath reality's heavy foot, of promises left unfulfilled, of possibilities that leave us wondering....God of life and death, beginnings and endings, today we pause to remember the power of those in charge to run the world.  Today we remember the many people near and far who are broken by that power:  those who live in places where peace is just a word, not a reality, not even a dream; those who are pushed to the margins because of their race, their gender, their bank balance, their marital status, or any of the countless other ways we find to set people apart;  those who live with nothing so that others may live with abundance those who choose to challenge the injustices in their world and are crushed beneath the feet of those in charge

In silence we remember them before you now……

O Holy One, hanging on the cross, suffering for the people who like us have sinned against you, hear our prayers we pray, and remember us when you come into your kingdom.  Amen.

 

Station 8:  In the tomb

Preamble:  On grey days it is hard to see clearly, difficult to understand things that aren’t clear.  This is the story of love, that he who knew no sin, died for us who are sinful.  Yet all we are asked to do today is to be present to the sacred story as it is retold, and to the inexplicable, mysterious, and wondrous, transaction that was, and still is taking place.

 

Matthew 27: 57-61

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

Silence…

Prayer:   God of love, we remember today all that our blessed Lord endured for us. Let us remember how Jesus was betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men …

Lord Jesus, we remember today that it was one of your own familiar friends who betrayed You, and we know that there is nothing that so breaks the heart as the disloyalty of one whom we call friend.

Let us remember how Jesus suffered death upon the Cross …

Lord Jesus, help us to remember the lengths to which Your love was ready to go; That having loved Your own You loved them to the very end; The love which none can be greater, The love that lays down its life for its friends.

Let us remember that you gave up everything that we might have the glorious riches of heaven.  You came to a borrowed cradle, lived without even a foxhole to lay and rest, carried the burden of a cross that was not yours to bear, and you were buried in a borrowed tomb.

You had nothing, so that we might have everything.

In humble sorrow, we return to our lives, to remember what you have done.  Amen.

 

Depart in silence….