Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Service for Good Friday, 5th April, 2012

Call to worship

Today is a sad day in the life of the church, a sad day in all of human history. The day used to be known as God’s Friday, but over time, language changed as language does, and it became known as Good Friday.

It’s a strange term, because on this day the ultimate evil occurred – the ultimate of human sinfulness showed itself. Human beings killed the son of God. Human beings killed the one who came into our life to save us from sin

The light, as the writer we know as John, said, had come into the world. He had come into our darkness. Into the darkness, indeed. On this day, it appeared the darkness was strong enough to put it out. Yet even in this absolute darkness, even on a day when evil seemed to rule the earth, God was at work.

Hymn Together in Song 330 O Sacred Head Sore Wounded


God of Good Friday,
we come before you amazed, at love so great it could pay any price for us.
We come before you awed and humbled,
ashamed by the cost of our sinfulness,
overwhelmed that in Jesus, you would pay the cost,
embarrassed that we cannot repay what Jesus has given.

Holy God,
We can see ourselves in so many parts of the Good Friday story.
We see ourselves in Judas,
trusting that the end will justify the means.

We see ourselves in the disciples,
running away when our problems become too great.

We see ourselves in Peter,
denying Jesus for fear of fingers pointing at us.

We see ourselves in Caiaphas,
who decided that one person’s needs weren’t as important as everyone else’s.

We see ourselves in the crowd
caught up in what is happening around us, and joining in – without questioning the ethics of what may be happening.

We see ourselves in Pilate,
washing our hands of our own actions, not acknowledging our own responsibility.

We see ourselves in Barabbas,
the guilty set free at the price of Jesus’ life.
We see ourselves on Jesus’ cross,
calling out, wanting to know where you are, and why you seem to have abandoned us when we are in despair, and pain.

We see ourselves in the women at the foot of the cross,
torn apart by the events of life, and helpless to change the pain we must live with.

We see ourselves in the soldiers who gambled for Jesus’ clothes,
so hardened by life that we can ignore others’ distress.

Help us, we pray, this Good Friday,
to see ourselves, and know who and what we are
And help us to give ourselves over to you,
to your love, your grace, and your mercy.
Transform our lives, and help us to respond,
to the love you have given us in Jesus.
In his name pray Amen.

Kids’ time – Lyndal

Hymn Together in Song 357 When his time was over.

Reading John chapters 18 and 19 (interspersed with verses of “Were you there when you crucified my Lord?” Together in Song 345 – some verses changed.) – Lindy/Josh
Solo: Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Reading John 18: 1-14
Solo: Were you there when they came with swords and spears?
Reading John 18: 15-27
Solo: Were you there when his friends betrayed and ran?
John 18:28 – 19:16
Solo: Were you there when they called for him to die?
John 19:17-25
Solo: Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
John 19:26-37
Solo: Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
John 19:38-42
Solo: Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?


Public opinion is a very changeable thing. Politicians who have won by a landslide at one election, to be voted out at the next, understand this.  In a week, Jesus went from being the most popular person on the street, to the most hated.

All of Jesus’ human life.  All of his earthly ministry.  Everything he had come to do, teaching, healing, miracles, debates with other rabbis – that cry of “Hosanna – save us!” from Palm Sunday. Everything was leading him to this.

Here it was – a huge miscarriage of justice. An innocent person – history’s only completely innocent person – was executed for treason.  In truth, it was not possible for him to be treasonous – as he was the highest authority present.

But this was the fulfilment of the ancient law.  In the law God had given Israel through Moses, sin would be overcome by a sacrifice – a first-born male animal, pure, without blemish, sacrificed in place of human beings. The sacrifice would pay the penalty for the crime of offending God’s perfect justice.  But such sacrifices were temporary – there would always be another offering needed, because human beings continually fall short of God’s perfection.

This was what Good Friday was about. God provided another sacrifice – one so perfect as to be able to compensate for all of human sin, for all of time – God’s own first-born son.

Human sin brought Jesus to the cross – but that had been the plan all along – that Jesus would suffer the punishment on behalf of those who put him there, on behalf of you and me.  Jesus would be the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.

Each Sunday, when we declare in worship that our sins are forgiven, it is because of this one event, this one miscarriage of justice, which could pay the price for all of our failings.

Hymn Together in Song 341 My Song is love unknown
Psalm 22:1-8, 25-31 (responsive from Uniting in Worship.)
My God, My God, why have you abandoned us?
There are so many times and places where it seems you have abandoned your creation!
The innocent still suffer, and those who are corrupt seem to prosper.
War and rumours of war, are heard of all around the world.
Why have you abandoned your creation? Where are you in the hurt, in the evil, in the injustice?
Is your heart breaking for the evil of this world?
Evil caused by the darkness in human souls?
Is your heart breaking now, just as it was when the evil of human hearts tried to extinguish the light of the world?
We pray for this world, and for all of its needs: that those in need will find that you have not abandoned them, but that you are right there, sharing their pain, feeling their hurt – and offering them the strength to go on.
In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Hymn Together in Song 342 When I survey
Depart in silence

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