After a moving service at Birtenshaw on Maundy Thursday when the theme was Hands and the Last Supper when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. Instead of washing feet, we washed each other’s hands and partook in Holy Communion together, the Worship leaders from Birtenshaw, Hawkshaw and the Triangle Methodist Churches led our Good Friday Worship and Meditation here at the Triangle.
Friday is the road to Sunday (Brian) when we remember the crucifixion of Jesus, and is our task to call people to the cross.
There is a Good Friday for us all.
Brian opened with prayers followed by the hymn “Here is love vast as the ocean”.
Jesus is Condemned (Martin) Jesus was asked by the Roman governor “Are you the King of the Jews?” But Jesus said nothing, all the crowd said, “Crucify him” and the governor handed him over and washed his hands of him and he said he was not responsible for his death. He had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be crucified.
Keith reflected on why Jesus said nothing and where was all his followers, surely someone would speak up for him. Still no one spoke and Jesus stood alone and remained silent. Pilate wasn’t in control.
Denis summarised that Pilate did what was safe and gave in to the crowds and he was a symbol of lack of courage, strength and power, lack of what is right and just.
The One who stood in chains, bruised from the beatings, spat at, was the man with real strength.
Keith followed with a prayer.
Jesus is crowned with thorns and mocked (Denis) the soldiers stripped off his clothes, put a scarlet robe on him, put a crown of thorns on his head, spat on him and made fun of him. They then took off robe and put on his own clothes back on.
Brian, Denis and Keith reflected on the humiliation and degradation Jesus suffered and how cruel people can be towards their fellow beings. We like to think that we are ready to follow Jesus who offers us peace and love. But are we? Are we willing to let love and peace control us and lead us to live as people who truly want to serve others? It isn’t always easy nor convenient.
Keith prayed and we then sang “Let there be love shared amongst us”.
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (Martin) A large group followed him, they were crying and wailing for him and Jesus told them not to cry for him but for themselves and their children.
Keith reflected about Jesus who was struggling with his own unimaginable pain of body and heart, but he was still he showed incredible love and mercy and concerned about others rather than himself.
Denis responded with prayer.
Everyone has a problem with the cross (Brian) The idea of Good Friday causes concern, the problem is both his power and wisdom led him to the cross, a brutal denial of everything he had done before.
Everything we meet daily and weekly have a problem with the cross. Who respects suffering and was the last time you spoke to people on suffering?
Jesus nailed to the Cross (Keith) it was nine o’clock when he was crucified, along with two others. People still threw insults at him----tearing down the temple and building it back up in three days. Save yourself. The priests and teachers of the law made fun too, save yourself and we will believe you.
Denis, Martin and Brian reflected the last steps of his journey of death, Jesus laid on the cross arms spread out, his wrists on the end of the cross and a spike driven into his side. He was hoisted into place and a spike driven through his feet., prolonging his agony.
This was a great injustice how could this happen to Jesus who only spoke of love to everyone and how could they be so cruel. Would we have acted differently?
Are the guilty ones who were there that day and condemned him and hammered in the nails? Or is it human sin that drives in the nails? My sin. Jesus, you are here, dying, because of my sin.
Denis followed with a prayer.
At this point, Brian placed some nails in the cross and we had a period of quiet reflection.
Chloe and Martin covered the cross with a red clothe.
We sang another hymn “Beneath the cross of Jesus”.
JESUS DIES (All together)
Midday the whole of the country was covered in darkness, lasting three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why did you abandon me? “and Jesus died. The temple curtain was torn in two. The soldier who was standing there saw how Jesus died “This man was really the Son of God”!
The heaven and the earth were grieving. Everyone had forsaken him. There is one who still hears your prayer, the one who you address as my God.
The earth shakes and the temple curtain torn in two. The holy of the holies is exposed for all to see.
What have we done? is there any hope?
Yet he never stopped loving us even in death. He died because of human sin, because of us. Sin is never the final word, God can redeem the worst that humans can do.
What can God do with such a final ending? We hope, and wait…….
Chloe followed with a prayer.
Jesus demonstrated faith over circumstances (Revd. Hilary)
Good Friday services often reflect on the seven phrases of Jesus from the cross. The fourth one of these is "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" taken from both Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. This is the only expression of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Both say that it was in the ninth hour – around 3.00pm in the afternoon, after 3 hours of darkness that Jesus cried out these words. After Jesus spoke Mark says with a horrible sense of finality, "Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last" (Mark 15:37).
We’re struck by the anguished tone of this expression, in contrast to the first thee phrases he spoke. For this cry is from the painful heart of the human Jesus who must have feel deserted by His Father and the Holy Spirit, not to mention his followers and friends. As if to emphasize his loneliness, Mark even has his loved ones "looking from afar," not close to him as John does. Jesus feels separated from his Father. He is now all alone, and he must face death by himself.
Jesus words are the opening verse of Psalm 22, and his cry from the Cross is the cry of Israel, and of all innocent people who suffer. Psalm 22 makes a striking prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah at a time when crucifixion was not known to exist: "They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones" (22:16-17). The Psalm continues: "They divide my garments among them, and for my clothes they cast lots" (22:18).
There can’t be a more dreadful moment in the history of humanity than this moment. Jesus who came to save us is crucified, and He realises the horror of what is happening and what He now is enduring. The burden of all the sins of humanity, for a moment overwhelm the humanity of our Saviour. He is about to be engulfed by our sin. If you’ve ever looked at Salvador Dali’s painting “St John of the cross”, you will see that Jesus isn’t nailed to the cross at all, it is my sin, and your sin, that holds him in place.
In contrast Luke has the seventh word of Jesus saying this: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Luke 23:46
It is directed to his Father just before He dies, they are words from Psalm 31 "Into thy hands I commend my spirit; for you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God." Jesus was obedient to His Father to the end, and his final word before his death on the Cross was a prayer.
How can these two phrases go together? Aren’t they saying different, even opposite things? Jesus saying – I feel that you’ve abandoned me, but then saying – I put myself into your hands.
I don’t really feel they are opposites. The weight of our sin on the shoulders of Jesus meant that for a moment, God was forced to look away. But wasn’t this part of what had to happen? Doesn’t this have to take place if Jesus is to save us? It is on the cross that the divine plan of God will be completed. It is by His death that we are redeemed, set free.
Even as he died on the cross Jesus demonstrated absolute faith and trust in any circumstance. He felt abandoned by God as he bore our sins, but he was able to put his life into the hands of God. Absolute trust.
Jesus had talked on numerous occasions about his death and resurrection, but it’s one thing to talk about it, it’s quite another to go to the cross willingly. Even more so when you know you could walk away.
At least three times Jesus shared his destiny with the disciples. They didn’t get it. More challenging still is the fact that Jesus embraced this destiny, by his faith. He knew the fathers promise of resurrection, but death still lay ahead of him, and death was still death, even for Jesus. It was his absolute trust in the Fathers promise that meant he was able to give up everything he had – including his life. As a man Jesus modelled what it was, and is, to trust the Father.
Friday means the beginning of change (Chloe)
Once you have been to the cross everything changes. Stumbling blocks and foolishness change into power and wisdom.
THE CROSS CHANGES EVERYTHING.
EASTER IS INDEED ABOUT AN EMPTY TOMB. BUT FIRST ITS ABOUT THE CROSS.
Why are we in such a hurry to rush Jesus up to heaven? Is it because the cross doesn’t fit into our picture of how things ought to be?
FRIDAY IS THE ROAD TO SUNDAY. IT WAS THE ROAD FOR JESUS; IT IS THE ROAD FOR US.
Chloe said the closing prayers and the last hymn was” When I survey the Wondrous cross “and everyone left the church in silence.
Thank you to everyone who led this Good Friday Worship and Mediation and left us with some very provoking thoughts.
After the service coffee and tea were served in the Café lounge and those daring to venture out for a short walk ate their packed lunch and waited to see if the walk would take place, as it was raining. The decision was made by Norman who was leading the walk round Doffocker Lodge and twelve brave people set off armed in weather proof clothes, umbrellas and boots and set off round the Lodge in the rain.
Thank you to Frances, who played the guitar for the hymns we sang, Revd. Hilary Howarth, the Worship leaders from the three churches who prepared the Meditation. Also to Joyce Read who “brewed up “and Norman and Lorraine Lowe for planning the walk.