On Good Friday, prior to the beginning of the service, we take the quiet moments before church begins to take stock of the burdens we are carrying. You may have a struggle that you have difficulty releasing to God’s control. Perhaps it is a relationship filled with discord. Maybe it’s a desire that is unmet or a compulsion you can’t overcome. Whatever it might be, write it down and then fold it up. We ask that you try to carry this burden with you to the cross, as you proceed through the service…and then leave it there…with Him. During our silent meditation at the conclusion of the service, we will all pray over these burdens and worries, and hopefully you will be able to let yours go.
Introit ………………… Largo
Performed by Karen Howard and Alina Mohr
CALL TO WORSHIP
We gather to recall the darkest of days.
Are you prepared to walk in the darkness?
We will walk there.
We gather to recall the struggle of profound love.
Are you prepared to enter that struggle?
We will enter there.
We gather as Christ’s beloved ones.
Are you prepared to call yourselves beloved?
We stand in God’s grace. We are beloved.
OPENING HYMN …………………….. #202 O Sacred Head Now Wounded
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Gracious God, we come before you this night, aware of the foreboding that lingers beneath the stillness of the hour. We look about us, and we sense an odd tension between joy and sorrow. For it is a time that is filled with gifts of love and remembrance. And yet it is a time that heaves with the pain of desertion and betrayal. Gracious God, be with us as we enter this sad and sacred time. Be with us as we encounter the light of your mercy in the face of human weakness. Be with us and enfold us in the mystery of your love. Amen.
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
Prayer of Confession
O Christ, in your presence we discover who we are. While you wash your disciples’ feet, we become aware of those times when we hesitate to serve one another. Even as you prepare to give yourself for the sake of the world, we see our tendency to focus our concerns first upon ourselves and trust our way more than your way. Forgive us our inconsistencies of faith and commitment, that we may receive gratefully this supper of love. Amen.
Words of Assurance
Hear the words of the Psalmist: “Praise is due to you, O God! To you shall all flesh come on account of sins. When our transgressions prevail over us, you forgive them.” When our hearts are heavy with the burden of our imperfection, God forgives us, and allows us to begin anew.
Welcome to the supper of our Lord. Together, we shall partake of the meal Jesus shared with his disciples on the last night of his life. The table is open to all who seek to share in the love of Christ. We come to nurture the indwelling spirit of love that Christ promises when we ask for God’s presence in our lives. In company with all who hunger for spiritual nourishment, we come to the table for this sacred meal.
[Please use whatever bread and wine (or juice) you have available at home for communion, or use none at all, and meditate on the reason we remember Jesus’ life and sacrifice.]
Prayer of Thanksgiving
O God, we thank you for your mighty acts of deliverance, when you enable us to cross over from despair to hope, from brokenness to wholeness, from death to live. We thank you for the deep love of Jesus, which moved him to sacrifice himself for the sake of humankind; and for the grace we receive from these symbols of love he gave to us. Through lives given over in commitment to you, make us worthy of this great love. Amen.
THE FIRST LESSON ………………………………………………… Matthew 26:36-46
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
THE SECOND LESSON ……………………………………………. Matthew 26:47-50
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
THE THIRD LESSON …………………………………..………. Matthew 26:57-68
Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.
Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
THE FOURTH LESSON……………………………………….. Matthew 26:69-75
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
SPECIAL MUSIC ……………………………………………. Were You There
Performed by the FCCG Choir
THE FIFTH LESSON ……………………………………………….. Matthew 27:15-23
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
THE SIXTH LESSON ……………………………………………….. Matthew 27:15-23
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
THE SEVENTH LESSON ……………………………………………….. Matthew 27:32-44
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.
And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
SPECIAL MUSIC ……………………………………………. What Wonderous Love is This
Performed by the Fernando Ortega
THE EIGHTH LESSON ……………………………………………….. Matthew 27:32-44
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
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May the Lord watch between me and thee, while we are apart one from the other, Amen.